A “rolling blockade” of the White House and state capitols is being planned by long haul trucker drivers who are afraid of losing their jobs because of a plan to allow Mexican long-haul truck drivers to operate in the United States it was announced today. Those who participate in the “Truck Out” are also being asked to operate their vehicles at the minimum speed allowed by law.
Although there are plans to let the Mexican truck drivers operate in the United States, United States Representative Duncan Hunter, a Republican Presidential candidate from California, at the end of March introduced legislation to bar the trucks from operating freely in the United States until certain conditions are met to ensure safety and security.
A pilot plan would allow 100 Mexican companies to operate their trucks anywhere in the United States. Hunter said he was concerned about “safety and security risks” involved with allowing the truck drivers access anywhere in the United States. The pilot plan has drawn opposition in Congress and in Mexico. Hunter said the pilot program could cause dangerous and unsafe vehicle traffic.
Hunter said his legislation, the NAFTA Safety Trucking Act “applies to Mexican truckers the same rules and regulations applied to American truckers, preventing unqualified and inexperienced motor carriers from traveling the highways.” He said if Mexican truckers cannot meet those qualifications, they should not be granted access to American highways.
The blockade of the White House and state capitols to protest the access to Mexican truckers is planned for April 23 to April 25. That will coincide with the Hold Their Feet to the Fire radio and talk show marathon in Washington. The radio marathon is being planned by the Federation for Immigration Reform.
Frosty Woolridge, a writer and talk show host who drove 18-wheelers for two decades and who first called for the protest, said, “Every American truck driver’s job is at risk.” He said American truck drivers will see their wages cut or will lose their jobs altogether if the pilot program is not stopped.
Despite Congressional opposition, President Bush has said the pilot program will begin in a few weeks. The first authority to be given to the Mexican truck drivers may come by the end of the month.
Republican Duncan Hunter is not the only member of Congress to fight the new plan. Democratic United States Senator Dianne Feinstein of California has introduced an amendment into the 2007 Fiscal Year 2007 Appropriations Bill that would block the pilot program until Mexico allows American truckers into that country.
Woolridge said the blockade is being carried out to protest allowing Mexican truckers in the country because the Mexican truckers will haul loads for considerably less than half of what U.S. truckers can afford to. He said jobs will “vanish” for American truckers, and independent truckers “will be run right out of business.”
The official website for the boycott is SaveAmericaFund.org.
The plan calls for truckers to form a slow-moving line across major highways around Washington, D.C. and the state capitols of the lower 48 states.
Wanda Piety, a California independent business owner who is involved in the project with Woolridge, said if the truckers circle the White House and state capitols in a “slow-rolling boycott,” they won’t be ticketed. That is as long as the drivers keep moving, even if at the slowest moving speed allowed. The plan is for them to drive bumper-to-bumper, and side-by-side to block and jam up traffic.
She said if the police break up one protest, the protesters will go down the road and start all over.