NAFTA Superhighway

At the time of this writing, there’s a story just below radar that’s poised to explode onto front pages all over America: the NAFTA Superhighway. And it should scare the hell out of everyone.

Jerome Corsi, who earned a Ph.D. in political science from Harvard, describes the Superhighway in a June 12, 2006 article in Human Events Online, a conservative website. According to Dr. Corsi, the mammoth road system is being quietly pushed by the Bush Administration. The proposed superhighway would be about 400 yards wide and run along U.S. Interstate 35 from the Mexican border at Loredo, Texas to the Canadian border above Duluth, Minnesota.

According to the Ambassador Bridge website, the Superhighway would facilitate commerce between Mexico, Canada, and the U.S. pursuant to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which was signed by the leaders of those three nations in 1994. Ambassador Bridge, owned by the Detroit Bridge Company on the U.S. side, and the Canadian Transit Company on the Canadian side, is the busiest crossing between the U.S. and Canada, according to the website. The owners of Ambassador Bridge are members of the NAFTA Superhighway Coalition (NASCO).

According to Ambassador Bridge, NAFTA trade among the three countries is expected to reach $ 1.5 trillion by 2010, and 75 percent of trade between the U.S. and Canada, America’s primary trading partner, is by truck. The website says that the Superhighway is good for the economies of all three nations and will provide jobs in towns near Highway 401, which serves the Canadian side of the Bridge.

Ambassador Bridge also says that the parties to NAFTA are obliged to build the Superhighway to “safely and efficiently” handle the increased road traffic projected over the next few years. Traffic safety is fine and dandy, but what about the safety of American borders?

In his Human Events article, Dr. Corsi writes that the proposed superhighway would allow containers from our good buddy China, and other parts of the Far East, to enter the U.S. through a Mexican port without assistance from American longshoremen, a situation which has their union up in arms.

Mexican trucks, without Teamsters Union help, would cross the U.S. border in express lanes scanned only by a new electronic technology called the SENTRI System. The first customs stop for the trucks would be at a yet-to-be-built Mexican customs office in Kansas City, whose three-million-dollar cost would be paid for by Kansas City taxpayers, according to Dr. Corsi.

“The border at Loredo should be reduced to an electronic speed bump” for trucks coming from our good neighbor to the south carrying Far Eastern items, writes Dr. Corsi. According to a July 14, 2006 commentary by Teamsters president Jim Hoffa, most Mexican drivers interviewed by an independent investigative reporter said they had used illegal drugs to stay conscious while driving, and many said they were involved in fatal crashes. Hoffa also said that Mexican trucks are uninsured.

In this age of terrorism and porous borders, the NAFTA Superhighway is yet another nail in the coffin for U.S. domestic security. American sovereignty should not be for sale. Our border security is being sacrificed on the altar of the NAFTA Superhighway to gain a perceived economic advantage which may prove elusive.

In contrast to the rosy economic picture painted by Ambassador Bridge, the Teamsters fear layoffs. According to Hoffa, NAFTA has caused the loss of three million American manufacturing jobs and one million Mexican farms. Hoffa says that under NAFTA, Mexican wages have dropped significantly, fueling illegal immigration to the U.S.

Whenever a Teamsters boss and a conservative commentator agree on anything, we’re all in trouble.

Dr. Corsi notes that President Bush has been silent on the issue, and that Congress has not drafted any legislation authorizing construction of the Superhighway. In other words, American leaders are out to lunch on the biggest proposed revamping of the U.S. interstate system since the Eisenhower Administration.

In his Human Events article, Dr. Corsi strongly suggests that the NAFTA Superhighway is a backdoor plan to create a North American Union similar to the European Union, but without the open debate that occurred prior to the formation of the latter entity.

The U.S. already has open borders with Canada, a stable, prosperous nation with which it shares a common heritage and culture. Given the widely reported attempted Canadian border crossings by several terrorists in recent years, we may have to modify that arrangement. In this climate, it is the height of insanity to have a superhighway which would create a de facto open border with Mexico, a country that has serious issues of corruption, poverty, and civil unrest.

In a June 5, 2006 article in World Net Daily, Dr. Corsi sites the Kansas City SmartPort website, which notes that in March 2005, Kansas City signed an agreement with the Mexican state of Michoacan, in which the Mexican port of Lazaro Cardenas is located. The agreement is intended to facilitate commerce between Lazaro Cardenas and Kansas City. Under this arrangement, Far Eastern goods would be quickly moved into America’s heartland with cheap, non-union, Mexican labor.

According to the World Net Daily article, shipments would be monitored by intelligent transportation systems (ITS), including GPS and radio frequency identification, between Kansas City and other parts of the U.S. The agreement calls for prescreening cargo in Southeast Asia and repeatedly scanning it with X-rays and gamma rays upon arrival in Mexico before it is sent to the U.S.

Sounds good on paper, except when you consider that there are already massive holes in current security systems employing similar technology for items arriving in the U.S. If the United States can’t trust its own systems to keep Americans safe, how can it possibly rely on dubious partners?

Another major problem is expense. An article in the August 3, 2006 online edition of the Duluth News Tribune notes that the Superhighway will cost Texas alone $ 145 billion to $ 183 billion. The Minnesota DOT, which, according to the News Tribune, is in “preservation-only mode”, has budgeted $ 800 million in new road construction over the past decade. The DOT is considering whether to join NASCO, but has no idea of how it would raise the required funds.

The News Tribune reports that the Texas DOT is holding public hearings this summer. At least somebody’s waking up. It’s about time.

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