Senators John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) today led a bipartisan group of senators calling on U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano to abandon the department's proposal to implement a border-crossing fee for those entering the United States from either Canada or Mexico at land crossings. The agency recently announced it planned a study to evaluate the proposal.
The Senators raised concerns that such a fee would negatively impact trade and commerce in communities near the borders and cited bipartisan opposition to the study in the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary.
"Canada is by far our largest trade partner and we need to continue to foster a mutually beneficial relationship with them," Hoeven said. "Rather than charging a fee that would hurt business in our border communities, we need to build a pro-growth business environment that will stimulate our economy and create jobs in the United States."
"Tourism and trade are vital to the economy of our state, and we should be doing everything we can to encourage visitors and cross-border business, not create obstacles for them," Klobuchar said. "A land border crossing fee could harm local economies in Minnesota, and I will continue to fight this fee and prevent measures that hurt cross-border tourism."
"Any fee, no matter how small, would have a negative impact on the day-to-day commerce and travel between border communities," Senator Collins said. "It would unduly penalize families who have relatives on either side of the border. The Canadian ambassador told me that Canadians, too, are alarmed at the prospect of such a fee."
"Our trading relationship with Canada is too important, and this study doesn't make sense," Heitkamp said. "We want to develop strategies to enhance cross-border economic activity and tourism -- not to develop plans which could harm such travel."
"Montana has 12 ports-of-entry on our 545 mile border with Canada and those ports drive tourism and business throughout Montana," Tester said. "Montana does almost $6 billion in trade with Canada each year. Adding a new fee to cross the border will discourage Canadians from coming to Montana to do business. I will continue to promote Montana as a business and tourism destination and I will work to stop any unnecessary burdens that could hurt Montana's economy."
"I don't support imposing a fee on cars and pedestrians coming and going across the Canadian border," said Sen. Franken. "Imposing a fee would hurt tourism and disrupt commerce in a way that would damage Minnesota's economy and the communities on or near our border with Canada. This idea doesn't make sense, and I'm going to do everything I can to prevent it from happening."
Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Al Franken (D- Minn.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Angus King (I-Maine), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) also signed onto the letter.