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.
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 $21 billion annually in the U.S., and Canadian officials told CBC News they will "vigorously lobby against this proposal."
On the U.S. side of the border, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., says he'll oppose the plan. "The Upstate (New York) economy would take a huge hit," he told reporters, "because the Canadians just won't come."
North Dakota's Rygg also worries that a border fee would send the wrong message to her Canadian neighbors. "If people don't feel welcome," she said, "why would they choose to come and spend their money here?"
Are these people stupid?. It is OK in exporting jobs. Importing customers which is important for jobs, they want to stop it? Going through the security checking is already a pain for the customers. Paying fee to come to the US to look for a small bargain and pay sale tax is not going to works.
OK. you can charge Justin Bieber the fees.
Canada is a neighboring country and deserve special considerations due to a shared history and a common language. We are already charging Europeans a 14$ (10 Euros) fee for border security fees, even when they don't need visas for visits of less than 3 months.
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.
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.
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?
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