In 1988, the United States and Mexico signed the U.S.Mexico Inland Joint Contingency Plan (JCP), which addresses hazardous materials emergencies along the joint inland border between the two nations. At the annual JRT meeting held in San Diego in March 1996, it was recommended that a Workgroup composed of U.S. and Mexican representatives be convened at a border location to discuss the barriers and identify potential solutions or recommendations for overcoming some of them. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regional office in Dallas, Texas agreed to initiate and sponsor such a Workgroup, named the U.S.Mexico JRT Cross-Border Workgroup. The Workgroup convened its first meeting in July 1996. Workgroup members came from the public and private sectors on both sides of the border and included representatives from: Local agencies, including fire and police departments; Local emergency planning committees (LEPCs) and CLAMs; Local public officials; State public health, environmental, and insurance agencies; Federal Customs, Immigration, and environmental agencies; and Firms involved in hazardous materials emergency response, as well as the manufacture, transport, and storage of hazardous substances. Meetings of the Workgroup were held in and around the Sister City pairs of Brownsville, Texas and Matamoros, Tamaulipas. The Workgroup met a total of five times; each meeting lasted one to two days. In the initial meetings, the Workgroup brainstormed to identify all possible barriers to rapid border crossing, and then identified four key barriers and four secondary barriers on which to focus their attention. For each barrier, the Workgroup identified the factors that make it a barrier and then provided recommendations for possible resolution.