Senator opposes "tax" on crossing the U.S.-Canadian border

WASHINGTON, May 9 -- Will there soon be a entry fee charged on Canadians visiting the U.S?

Last month the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) included in its budget proposal a request for appropriations to study charging people admission for crossing the border into the United States. On U.S. Senator is speaking out against such a policy.

"It does not take a study to know that charging Canadian relatives, friends, tourists, business people and shoppers a fee to enter the United States is a bad idea. I do not intend to let this half-baked idea see the light of day," said U.S. Senator (VT-D) Patrick Leahy.

"I will be fighting this on all fronts. This week, as chairman of the Judiciary Committee I will introduce an amendment to the immigration bill, which is before the committee for bill-writing sessions that begin on Thursday. My amendment would bar - outright - the implementation of this type of fee. I also am writing to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, asking her agency to shelve the idea of a study about this bad idea. And as the most senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee I am committed to ensuring that no appropriations for a border crossing fee or study will be included in the DHS budget that we will soon begin writing in the committee."

Leahy also noted the long history of a free border between Canada and the U.S., citing Canada's status as a valued trading partner and noting that nearly 300,000 Canadians visit the U.S. each day, spending an estimated $235 million each year.

As a border state, Vermont has deep financial ties with the country, as well. more than 600,000 Canadians visit the state each year, spending about $115 million in Vermont per year.

"Here in Vermont our economic prosperity is interwoven with Quebec's prosperity," he said. "The Burlington International Airport depends on Quebec for nearly one-third of its passengers. Resorts like Jay Peak draw thousands of people south to Vermont every day, contributing to our local economy. And there are dozens of businesses producing goods -- from IBM's semiconductors, to Barry Callebaut's chocolates -- that depend on a free and open border to create jobs here in Vermont and in Quebec. That's not theory; it's a practical, daily fact of life in our state, and it's worth keeping and defending. A new fee on these activities would threaten the core of our economy."