Vermonters are joining the chorus of criticism over a Department of Homeland Security proposal to study charging a fee to enter the United States at land border crossings.
The proposal in the agency’s 2014 budget request calls for Customs and Border Protection to study the feasibility and cost of charging a land border crossing fee for pedestrians and passenger vehicles. It does not suggest an amount to charge.
Vermont Congressman Peter Welch and New York Congressman Bill Owens, both Democrats, have sent a joint letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano expressing their opposition to the proposal. They write: “The imposition of such a toll ..... is the absolute last thing we should be doing to grow our economy. It would be a waste of government resources to even study the flawed idea.” Earlier this week, Congressman Owens told WAMC the idea is without merit .
In Vermont, Jay Peak Ski Resort is only a few miles from the Canadian border and is in the midst of a multi-million dollar expansion. President Bill Stenger says Homeland Security is putting forth a terrible proposal.
Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce President Tom Torti agrees.
Torti explains that’s because people are price sensitive when they travel.
The Department of Homeland Security Press Office e-mailed that it is assessing options for broadening to land crossings the user fee base, which supports operations costs at ports of entry. Any study would be completed within nine months of Congressional approval.
In published reports, Vermont Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy has called the fee proposal a bad idea and Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins is calling for unified northern border opposition.