12:01am

Thu April 25, 2013
Politics

Proposed border crossing fee faces bipartisan opposition

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s is proposing a border crossing fee for those traveling into the country from Canada. So far the idea is drawing opposition from representatives across western New York.

The DHS has made provision in their 2014 budget proposal for a study on collecting fees from people entering the U.S. via land border crossings, to defray security costs.

Democratic Rep. Brian Higgins says if implemented, the plan would have a significant impact on the Buffalo-Niagara economy.

“There are already too many fees. We are taxed, which pays for customs and border protection. There are fees at the peace bridge now and other northern border crossings to pay for capital improvements, maintenance and a like. I don’t think the department of homeland security has advanced a compelling argument that a new fee is needed. We should be seeking to remove barriers to access at the northern border, not erect new ones,” said Higgins.

Higgins says the amount of the proposed fee is unclear and when he spoke to Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano about the issue she told him she was unfamiliar with the plan, and had to get back to him.

Buffalo Niagara Partnership CEO Andrew Rudnick says the tax would be a bad thing from the point of view of tourism.

“If those resources are put to efforts, technology, and people primarily that would facilitate the movement of people and goods across the border then maybe that is something we should look at in a balanced way,” says Rudnick.

Republican Rep. Chris Collins agrees. He says the minute fees are imposed, it sends a message to Canadians that they shouldn’t cross the border. The measure has also earned criticism north of the border.