Among the issues Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto may wish to discuss with President Barack Obama during his Mexico visit is little-noticed border crossing tax language tucked inside Obama’s 2014 budget.
“Buried deep in the section relating to the Department of Homeland Security, there is language directing the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection to carry out a study of the potential impacts of collecting a border crossing fee on pedestrians and private vehicles at our country’s land borders,”writes former Homeland Security Advisory Council member Nelson Balido.
On page 541 of the Department of Homeland Security portion of Obama’s budget, Sec. 544 reads as follows:
SEC. 544. (a) The Commissioner of the United States Customs and Border Protection shall:
(1) conduct a study 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; the study should include:
(A) the feasibility of collecting from existing operators on the land border such as bridge commissions, toll operators, commercial passenger bus, and commercial passenger rail;(B) requirements to collect at land ports of entry where existing capability is not present; and
(C) any legal and regulatory impediments to establishing and collecting a land border crossing fee; and
(2) complete the study within 9 months of enactment of this Act.
Balido says such a tax would “be devastating, costing thousands of jobs in border communities that depend on our neighbors’ ability to securely cross our borders to shop in our stores, eat in our restaurants, stay in our hotels, visit our tourist attractions and spend time with family and friends.”
The U.S. Travel Association says 56% of international travelers coming to the U.S. originate from Mexico and Canada.