Should US charge Canadians to cross the border?

Business officials and lawmakers in both countries say a proposed fee would hurt trade, tourism and a sense of a shared culture.

By Bruce Kennedy Apr 29, 2013 8:59AM

Motorists line up at a U.S. border crossing to enter Point Roberts, Washington, from Delta, British Columbia, Canada (© Canadian Press/Rex Features)For decades, one of the most notable aspects of U.S.-Canadian relations was the two countries sharing the longest undefended border in the world. And people who lived along that border could come and go virtually at will, or with just a minimum security stop at some of the more well-traveled border crossings.

But life along America's northern border went through some significant changes after 9/11. Security and surveillance have been stepped up, quite dramatically in some areas.

As part of its fiscal 2014 budget request, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is looking for new ways to fund that more stringent security. One proposal: a fee on Canadians entering the U.S. by foot, car or train.

The U.S. now has more than 25,000 Customs and Border Protection Officers (CBPOs). And in testimony before Congress earlier this month, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano noted this increased staffing at ports of entry has a positive economic effect.

She quoted the results of a University of Southern California study that estimates for every 1,000 CBPOs added, the U.S. can anticipate a $2 billion increase in gross domestic product. Napolitano said the research also indicates "these additional CBPOs may result in approximately 110,000 more jobs and a potential increase of $6.95 billion in gross domestic product."

But people on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border, including lawmakers, business representatives and tourism officials, aren't having it.

"While we appreciate the fiscal challenges faced by our friends in the United States, we would prefer the U.S. government focus on ways to reduce obstacles at the border that hinder trade and tourism," Michael MacKenzie, executive director of the Canadian Snowbird Association, told CBC News.

And Julie Rygg with the Greater Grand Forks, N.D., Convention and Visitors Bureau, has written her representatives in Washington that the new fee would discourage cross-border shoppers.

"They're coming to shop, they're looking for good deals," she said. "Prices and exchange rates and all those things affect their travel. So increasing their fee structure, it's just not going to sit well, I don't believe."

Canadians spend more than $21 billion annually in the U.S., and Canadian officials told CBC News they will "vigorously lobby against this proposal."

On the U.S. side of the border, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., says he'll oppose the plan. "The Upstate (New York) economy would take a huge hit," he told reporters, "because the Canadians just won't come."

North Dakota's Rygg also worries that a border fee would send the wrong message to her Canadian neighbors. "If people don't feel welcome," she said, "why would they choose to come and spend their money here?"

More on moneyNOW

Apr 29, 2013 10:19AM
gee.....we don't charge the mexicans to cross by the thousands! 
Apr 29, 2013 11:51AM
people on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border, including lawmakers, business representatives and tourism officials, aren't having it..

Are these people stupid?.  It is OK in exporting jobs.  Importing customers which is important for jobs, they want to stop it?  Going through the security checking is already a pain for the customers.  Paying fee to come to the US to look for a small bargain and pay sale tax is not going to works.

OK. you can charge Justin Bieber the fees.
Apr 29, 2013 10:51AM
Are we trying to win a popularity contest?
Canada is a neighboring  country and deserve special considerations due to a shared history and a common language. We are already charging Europeans a 14$ (10 Euros) fee for border security fees, even when they don't need visas for visits of less than 3 months.
Apr 29, 2013 12:47PM
Another stupid idea from a stupid liberal.
Apr 29, 2013 1:56PM
Do Canadians cross the border for "Free" Health-Care? No, they have there own...better than ours! Do they come here for "free money" or public assistance? No, they come here to spend money. And, like a great guest, they leave at the appropriate time and are thankful for our hospitality. So Andrew, you want to be a greety host? Like J.P. Getty, you want to put a payphone in the voyeur. I guess helping your bottomline by hurting ours is just business as usual in Albany.
Apr 29, 2013 2:04PM
Just another back door way of collecting taxes by the Obama administration to help fund and further his agenda and sends the wrong message to our Canadian neighbors. If they are going to charge anyone, let them charge all the illegals that come across at our southern border.
Apr 29, 2013 2:23PM
What a stupid idea. We need to vote all of these imbeciles out of office, they are the reason that the US economy is where it is today. Libs haven't cornered the market on stupidity, there are stupid Conservatives too. Vote them all out and start anew.
Apr 29, 2013 10:20AM
We do... it's called Sales Tax. What we need to stop is the big box retailers they flock to from sweeping the cash out every night and leaving those near-border town destitute.
Apr 29, 2013 9:49AM
So increasing taxes, decreases revenue huh Chucky!  Who would have thunk it!!!
Apr 29, 2013 2:28PM
Nothing the Obama administration comes up with surprises me anymore/////////////
Apr 29, 2013 3:10PM


 This is your Canadian friend up north.

Just wanted to say Sorry about the tough time your having down there.

It seems like your country is so divided, and in financial trouble.

So if you want to charge us a few bucks to cross the border, go ahead anything we can do to help.

I lived in America when I was a small child. My first memories were there. My parents moved to Canada when I was six. I always wanted to move back, but in the last ten years or so you've changed.

you spend billions on fighting when its not even your fight. you have millions of people with out work and homeless. children going hungry. America what happened to you. You used to be so great. I hope you can get back to the great country you once were. Like I said.... Sorry, I would gladly pay a few bucks to come see you because under all your ugly problems I know your still Beautiful.


Apr 29, 2013 2:08PM
No,because then they will do the same to us.
Apr 29, 2013 2:11PM

Maybe we could find a compromise?  We could have them pay, or they could take an illegal immigrant with them when they go back to Canada and not pay.  Win win. 

Apr 29, 2013 2:23PM
This is all wrong....we should be paying Mexicans to LEAVE.  Cheaper than the alternative!!
Apr 29, 2013 2:14PM
Lets charge our neighbors up north but in the meantime there's tens of thousands of out of work dirt bags coming in from the south.  If we do charge the Canadians the money should go towards an electrical fence or having thousands of national guardsmen on our southern border.
Apr 29, 2013 1:34PM
Great.  Now I'm going to have South Park's "Blame Canada" stuck in my head all day.  Thanks MSN!
Apr 29, 2013 2:30PM
I drove from Anchorage to Haines , Alaska and when I checked into Canadian Customs on the way to there, with my passport at the border, I was held up for and hour so they could do a criminal background check and a DUI check. I was told if I had a criminal record I would have to turn back, and if I had a DUI on my record I would have to pay $250.00 to pass through. I think Canadians should be charged $250.00 to enter the US and if they have any history of arrest they should be turned away.
Apr 29, 2013 2:58PM

All we hear about are new FEES, FEES and more FEES. Just remember it is not a tax-it's a fee.


All I hear is BS, BS and more BS.


What are these people thinking? 

Apr 29, 2013 2:57PM
probably the dumbest thing I've heard in a long time, considering they don't do the same for the Mexicans.
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