Foreigners entering the United States from Canada or Mexico will soon have to pay new service charges for some border-crossing cards and other documents, the Immigration and Naturalization Service announced Friday.
The fees of $4 to $32 will be imposed, beginning Oct. 9, on visitors replacing lost border-crossing cards or requesting documents giving special privileges, such as extended stays.The new fees, expected to generate more than $17 million a year, will be used to improve service at both borders.
INS Commissioner Doris Meiss-ner compared the new fees to "those paid for a driver's license, vehicle registration, birth certificate or marriage license."
"The time has come to levy these modest service charges in order to support and enhance customer service to the mounting numbers of visitors entering the United States along the Canadian and Mexican borders," she said.
Immigration officials say the service charges are a result of current federal policies that shift costs of some benefits to the consumer.
Rep. Ron Coleman, D-Texas, however, said he opposes the new fees.
"I am in opposition to any proposal that would inhibit the free flow of goods or families," Coleman said. "The fees seem to work at cross purposes with the North American Free Trade Agreement and sets a precedent for border fees, which I vehemently oppose."
Other border-crossing fees, such as those proposed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., would be charged on all those crossing the border.
Crossing fees of $1.50 per pedestrian or $3 a car were included in President Clinton's 1996 budget proposal. But they drew fierce opposition in Congress and have been sidetracked.