Julian Aguilar
The Texas Tribune
January 24, 2011

A proposal by the Obama administration that would grant Mexican truckers greater access to Texas roadways — and far beyond — would be a boon to businesses in the state, supporters say. But unions, the Teamsters in particular, say the plan would cost American jobs.

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Three of the top five ports for trade between the United States and Mexico are Laredo, El Paso and Houston. Through the first 10 months of 2010, more than $146 billion in trade between the United States and Mexico moved through the Port of Laredo, more than $57 billion through El Paso and $17.5 billion through Houston, ranking the ports No. 1, No. 2 and No. 5, respectively, in terms of trade with Mexico. Overall, the United States traded about $324 billion with Mexico during the same period.

A provision in the original 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement would have allowed long-haul truckers from Mexico to move about the United States without mileage restrictions, but it was never put into effect. Today, tractor-trailers entering the United States from Mexico (and vice versa) are limited to traveling within a 20-mile to 25-mile radius of ports of entry. There, Mexican truckers must drop their goods, which are then picked up by American truckers to be transported to their final destinations.

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This month, the Obama administration issued what it called a “concept document” addressing many of the concerns that have blocked full carrying out of the provision.

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