Pryor Steps Up Transportation Security
Senator Mark Pryor today said transportation security remains a major vulnerability in securing our homeland, and he is working to light a fire under the U.S. Department of Transportation to enforce its own recommendations to enhance security within the trucking industry and crack down on foreign truckers who violate U.S. trucking laws.
Pryor said trucking security should be addressed as part of the port security legislation currently before the Senate, and he introduced an amendment that would direct the Department of Transportation (DOT) to carry out its 2004 recommendations to eliminate fraud surrounding Commercial Driver Licenses (CDL) and ensure applicants are legal citizens via their social security numbers. Pryor said only truckers carrying Hazmat loads must currently demonstrate their citizenship when applying for a CDL, which makes up only 30 percent of commercial drivers. A February 2006 report estimates thousands of CDLs have been issued to drivers who obtained them though corrupt state or state-approved testing processes, including through bribes to help an unqualified applicant circumvent written exams, wait times to prepare and take a skills test, legal residency requirements and insufficient training to pass the skills test.
"Trucks have been used in several terrorist attacks in the past, and yet the DOT has done very little but identify existing security gaps. My measure requires DOT to take action and ensure training and citizenship requirements are being met before an individual is allowed to haul major cargo throughout the country," Pryor said.
Pryor said his amendment will also address a national security threat identified by the 9/11 Commission where foreign trucking entities enter the U.S. and violate immigration and customs laws. Currently, foreign truckers are allowed to deliver foreign loads to a point within 25 miles of the border, pick up from a point in the U.S. to return a load to their country of origin, or carry a load through the U.S. to another country. They are not allowed to provide point-to-point deliveries within the U.S., which poses a business threat to U.S. truckers. Pryor's amendment directs the DOT and Department of Homeland Security to provide uniform guidelines and procedures to state governments and law enforcement to help them enforce existing federal immigration and customs requirements as they apply to foreign trucks and drivers.
"Clarifying immigration laws that apply to foreign truckers will go a long way to fix both a national security and a U.S. business threat," Pryor said. "I know Arkansans understand the importance of this measure, and I believe my Senate colleagues will also support common-sense steps that will help secure our nation."