The Department of Homeland Security wants to study the benefits of collecting a fee from anyone who enters or leaves the country at landed border crossings, as opposed to funding operations by collecting taxes from earners who can afford to pay.

The proposal is part of the DHS 2014 budget plan. Previously, the department imposed no fees on people who enter the country by car, bus or train. But officials are now seeking an unspecified sum for “assessing the feasibility and cost relating to establishing and collecting a land border crossing fee for both land border pedestrians and passenger vehicles along the northern and southwest borders of the United States.”

None of the voiced objections to the proposed fee appearing in the article below have to do with the unfair cost it would impose on people who earn little money and need to regularly cross a border for work or other reasons. People in Whatcom County in northern Washington state are arguing that a fee would reduce the number of Canadians who support the local economy when they cross the border to shop.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

The Bellingham Herald:

Ken Oplinger, president of the Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that would be a negative for the Canadian shoppers who support local businesses. Besides the fee itself, the collection of the fee would likely add to border crossing times.

“It would certainly dampen the desire by the Canadians to come south,” Oplinger said. “What sort of loss to local revenues is that going to cause?”

Oplinger was skeptical that a border fee would be a good way for the feds to recover border costs. Reducing the flow of retail and tourist dollars across the border would have an indirect impact on federal tax revenues as well, he said.

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