Proposed border-crossing fee for Canadians 'ain’t going to happen': U.S. congressman
Published Sunday, April 28, 2013 1:33PM EDT
A Democratic U.S. congressman said he will fight “aggressively” against a proposed entry fee for Canadian travellers entering the U.S. via land border crossings and is confident the proposal will be defeated.
Congressman Brian Higgins, who represents a district in Western New York encompassing the border city of Buffalo, told CTV’s Question Period that he has circulated a letter condemning the fee and has the support of Republican and Democratic members of Congress who also represent border communities.
“We are adamantly opposed to this fee proposal, as is United States Senator Chuck Schumer,” he said. “I’m telling you it ain’t going to happen.”
The issue came to light last week, after a proposal to study the new fee was included in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s 2014 budget.
In its proposal, the department urged for a study examining the effect of collecting a crossing fee for both pedestrians and passenger vehicles along the Canadian and Mexican borders.
Proponents say the fee is being considered as a way to cover increasing costs related to securing the border and processing the estimated 350 million travellers who enter the U.S. each year. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said some of the fees have not been adjusted in a decade.
But Higgins said a fee would hinder cross-border travel and take a toll on the retail and tourism economy of border communities like Buffalo.
He said that 25 to 30 per cent of the retail economy in his district comes from Canadian cross-border shoppers. He also noted that the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres sports franchises would not be able to survive without the support of fans from southwestern Ontario.
“We should be removing barriers to access to and from Canada, not erecting new ones. And a fee is a major barrier to access,” he said.
Higgins said early indication shows that both Republicans and Democrats oppose the proposed fee, giving him confidence that it will not pass in the House of Representatives or the Senate.
“I am going to fight this very, very aggressively and I have a lot of allies,” he said. “I am confident that in the end this will be defeated."