So these inland ports not only threaten private property rights and the future of an independent American economy, they also threaten United States sovereignty.
By Terri Hall l August 27, 2012
The Trans-Texas Corridor lives on.
Texas officials and transportation industry leaders gathered in Irving recently for the annual Texas Transportation Summit to examine how to move people and goods faster. One of the hot topics was to fast track the Loop 9 project just south of Dallas – a global trade link project that’s part of the original Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC) due to its strategic connection to the International Inland Port of Dallas (IIPOD). The TTC is the Texas feeder exchange from Mexico’s Pacific ports for the NAFTA superhighways designed to achieve over time the economic integration of the United States with Canada and Mexico through open borders and global trade agreements.
The International Inland Port of Dallas is described as a ‘public-private partnership’ consisting of 234,000 acres encompassing 12 municipalities benefiting from “multiple interstate highways and two Class I railroads…and the future Loop 9.” With build-out and expansion estimated to take some 30 to 40 years, all under the radar, deceptively and incrementally over time so as to go as unnoticed as possible, until Dallas becomes the ‘Global Gateway to Asia’ particularly China – well, how about giving Texans an idea of what the big picture is intended to look like. Shouldn’t Texans also have a say in what their state’s future should look like – after all, it’s their tax money?
Though officials at the Irving conference gave lip service to moving people faster, it was clear the real goal of the conference was to get the coming influx of imported Asian goods moving faster through Mexico AND in anticipation of the completion of the Panama Canal expansion opening in 2014. Loop 9 would connect NAFTA-Asia trade traffic from Mexico through Laredo to I-35 (TTC-35) and coming up from the Port of Houston onto Interstate 45 connecting with the inland port outside Dallas.
Inland ports and foreign trade zones
The main developer of the International Inland Port of Dallas, the Allen Group, has recently reorganized and emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Harrison Hoof, the executive vice president of Intermodal Cartage, the trucking firm and container yards at IIPOD, told the Dallas News last year that the “I-45 corridor is going to be a key part of the all-water route from Asia. It’s just a matter of time.”
One of the advantages of inland ports is the ability to move the task of sorting and processing international cargo through customs much further inland, as well as to create hubs that optimize logistics and distribution of foreign-made goods. Often referred to as an ‘intermodal’ transfer point for containers traveling by air, land (truck and rail) and sea, an inland port can serve as a distribution center to off-load these containers from one mode of transportation to another. Inland ports, exempted from taxes, also usually reside in markets outside urban areas, reducing labor and property costs.
Inland ports can also be a Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ). The purpose of these FTZs is to make foreign goods more competitive with domestic goods. You read that right. FTZs give foreign goods economic advantages over domestically made goods.
So if the inland port is also a FTZ, it’s a tremendous tax benefit for global corporations since they do not have to pay the tariff or taxes due on the goods until they leave the zone, otherwise they would not be competitive. American companies have no such advantage. They have to pay property taxes to warehouse their goods. Foreign companies shipping their goods from a FTZ to another country are also exempt from duty payments.
So a foreign corporation can essentially house their goods on U.S. soil, duty-free, only to turn around and export them out of the country, also duty-free. What a deal!
Other countries can also set-up a ‘customs office’ within an inland port to expedite the customs process for U.S. exporters – all at taxpayer expense. FTZs also have special customs procedures that allow foreign companies to bypass the congestion of seaway ports, such as Long Beach and Los Angeles, and not have their cargo inspected and processed until it reaches a zone.
However, the drawbacks to American taxpayers, property rights, national security, and state and national sovereignty cannot be overlooked. Taxpayers should not be footing the bill to bring foreign goods into our country. If these global corporations had to pay the true cost of bringing this cargo into the United States, then perhaps we’d see a resurgence of American manufacturing that’s been supplanted by the giveaways and special treatment of foreign goods by an internationalist Congress that came back on the scene with the advent of NAFTA.
Heavyweight trucks welcome?
A related topic considered at the Irving conference by Texas officials is the matter of increasing the truck weight limits to 97,000 pounds from the current 80,000 pound limit. The super-loaded trucks expected to flood Texas highways and U.S. markets, as a result of NAFTA expansion into inland ports and foreign trade zones especially with the coming expansion of the Panama Canal, would require special approval from Congress as well as the Texas legislature and come with a heavy price to Texas taxpayers who will have to pay for the damage done to our highways by these overweight trucks.
After all, it was heavy NAFTA truck traffic that significantly contributed to the I-35W Mississippi River Bridge collapse in Minneapolis on August 1, 2007. In fact, World Net Daily reported that officials had “Warned NAFTA Trucks Threatened Bridge” way before the collapse. Jerome Corsi wrote at the time that “a Federal Highway Administration study begun in 1998 warned increased NAFTA truck traffic would endanger Minnesota bridges along I-35.”
As a matter of discussion and study by past legislatures, Texas lawmakers know that trucks cause the majority of the damage to Texas highways and yet they pay very little for the overweight truck permits – certainly nowhere near enough to cover the increased maintenance cost to Texas roads. So, lawmakers have considered increasing the permit fee to help offset that growing maintenance cost.
Now the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) seems to be continuing the virtual free pass for overweight international freight carriers coming across the border from Mexico, even encouraging the trend by pushing for increased truck weight limits, and continues to shift its focus to ‘economic development’ and moving goods faster, not providing better roads to drive on for Texans, who pay their bills. In fact, TxDOT is now signaling it’s giving priority to projects that facilitate cross-border trade connections rather than the projects that relieve congestion in urban areas that would serve the majority of Texas taxpayers.
TxDOT’s severe eminent domain abuse endangers our sovereignty!
TxDOT Executive Director Phil Wilson said it best, “We are not in the transportation business. We are in the economic development and people business. We are the artery and lifeline of how we grow our economy in this state.”
Considering TxDOT wields the power of eminent domain for the majority of its projects, it’s a frightening statement by Wilson that he sees the job of the Department to be ‘economic development’ and growing the Texas economy, not building and maintaining public roads. Remember, the Kelo eminent domain abuse case was about economic development. When government gets in the business of economic development, it means eminent domain for private gain, public money for private profits, and a manipulation of the free market economy. Let the private sector grow the economy.
Although most of the IIPOD is described as vacant farmland, it’s unclear if the land for this inland port and FTZ was obtained through eminent domain; but one thing is known about the land on which these ports generally sit – it’s no longer sovereign U.S. territory. A World Net Daily investigation in 2006 found documents stating the Kansas City SmartPort, another inland port, allowed the Mexican government to set-up a customs office within its port and said the office would “need to be designated as Mexican sovereign territory.”
So these inland ports not only threaten private property rights and the future of an independent American economy, they threaten United States sovereignty. It’s also a matter of national security when containers are not inspected until they’re well into U.S. territory.
A smuggler’s dream!
In yet another move that unscrupulously exploits the taxpayers, TxDOT will throw $50 million into the Loop 9 project – to facilitate international trade through an inland port, NOT for the 100 Most Congested Roads in Texas. On top of that, the City of Dallas is ponying-up $23 million in publicly-funded improvements for water and other infrastructure for the inland port.
When elected officials view taxpayer money as their personal slush fund for special interests like multi-national corporations, such crony capitalism and corruption breed contempt for taxpayers that leads to abuses and tyranny that should never be tolerated in a free Republic. Meanwhile, untold sums of public money continue to get dumped into building out the NAFTA superhighway trade corridors along with highly leveraged toll roads, completely under the radar without the general knowledge or the CONSENT of either Texans or the American public.
NAFTA negotiations began under President George H.W. Bush in 1990, while the agreement itself was signed by representatives of the three North American countries in San Antonio December of 1992. But it was the Intermodal Surface Transportation Act (ISTEA) that paved the way for NAFTA’s inland port and foreign trade zone development that we are faced with today. Although it was Congress who passed the NAFTA legislation and President Bill Clinton who signed NAFTA into law in 1993, even then, it appears that Congress had to pass the law before we would know what was really in it.
Indeed, the Trans-Texas Corridor, the Texas feeder exchange for the NAFTA superhighways nationwide, is alive and well in Loop 9, which is positioned to link Dallas as an inland port to become a global trade center, WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF THE GOVERNED.
The road to globalization was paved two decades ago. That is the reason the globalization of America is alive and well today, right here in the heart of Texas.
Terri Hall is the founder of Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF), which defends against eminent domain abuse and promotes non-toll transportation solutions. She’s a home school mother of eight turned citizen activist. Ms. Hall is also a contributor to