The U.S. Department of Transportation has released an initial concept document, which it has shared with Congress and the government of Mexico, for a long-haul, cross-border Mexican trucking program that it says prioritizes safety, while satisfying the United States’ international obligations, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

After the demonstration program was terminated in March 2009, Secretary Ray LaHood and other Obama Administration officials met with lawmakers, safety advocates, industry representatives and other stakeholders to address a broad range of concerns. The initial concept document, which is a starting point in the renewed negotiations with Mexico, addresses concerns raised during that process.

The Administration will continue to work with Congress and other stakeholders to put safety first, the DOT says.

In a statement posted to the Teamsters website, James Hoffa, president of the union, denounced the DOT’s proposal, claiming that it would take jobs away from American truck drivers. “My union will fight like hell against opening the border to Mexican trucks,” Hoffa vows. “We simply don’t believe U.S. taxpayers should pay to let more Mexican companies depress American workers’ wages.”