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Proposed border crossing fee faces bipartisan opposition

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security 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 U.S. 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 Congressman Brian Higgins said 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 said 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 said 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 representative Chris Collins agrees. He said 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.