April 24, 2013

Fee for border crossings mulled

PLATTSBURGH — The idea of charging a fee to cross the U.S.-Canadian border is being floated, and so far it is not very popular.

“Once again, we have proof that you can never underestimate the capacity of some supposedly well-informed people in Washington to suggest stupid things,” Garry Douglas, president of the North Country Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement to the Press-Republican.

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Douglas was talking about a proposal from the federal Department of Homeland Security to conduct a study to see if it would be a good idea to charge people for crossing the border.

The study would include assessing the feasibility of collecting a fee at both the northern and southwestern borders of the United States. 

According to Homeland Security’s budget submission, the study should investigate:

▶ The feasibility of collecting from existing operators on the land border such as bridge commissions, toll operators, commercial passenger bus, and commercial passenger rail.

▶ Requirements to collect at land ports of entry where existing capability is not present.

▶ Any legal and regulatory impediments to establishing and collecting a land border crossing fee.

It doesn’t specify whether the fee would be charged for those entering or leaving the United States or how much it would cost.


Congressman Bill Owens (D-Plattsburgh), who is the co-chairman of the Congressional Northern Border Caucus, said he strongly opposes any fees.

“Imposing a fee to cross the border is a bad idea, plain and simple,” he said in a news release.

“I represent a number of communities that depend on Canadian travelers and investment to support local business and job growth. Instead of adding an additional barrier for commerce, we should be taking more steps to ease the legitimate flow of people and goods between the two countries.”

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