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Doris Payne-Camp writes,

A border crossing fee would add insult to injury for those crossing the border daily to work here but yet cannot afford to live in the USA. They are already penalized by hours-long waits to pass through the entry points, never mind the cost of the gasoline that is wasted while waiting and the emissions that add to the region’s poor air quality. Those who have invested in Sentri passes are already paying an additional fee to cross the border. They should not be taxed again.

Stephen H. Velez of Dorcas House – St. Paul’s Cathedral, agrees with the idea of a border crossing fee, but also notes,

I am a little concerned that it might get lost in the details. You mention a few such as how the money will be distributed, and that is a legitimate concern as the border area has a large number of common concerns. You mention health, but there is also the environment, economic development, the drug trade, and human trafficking.

Velez goes on to write,

…the cost to the persons crossing the border needs to be kept at a level that does not discourage traffic flows both ways. It is my contention that the more people who experience the richness of the culture on both sides of the border, the more likely that some of the other problems will become broader and more visible public issues. My own view is the border needs to be re-thought, and viewed as a wider and more permeable band in which the natural interdependence is more directly managed.

While consensus among San Diego-Tijuana area border crossers may be divided on the idea of a border-crossing fee, it is worth noting that along the Texas border toll fees are charged crossing in both directions and that these tolls have not stymied cross-border traffic in any way.

Here’s a sample of current border toll rates along the Texas border:

Border Port of Entry: El Pas/Cd. Juarez

Entry into Mexico: $1.25; Return to the USA: $1.40.

Border Port of Entry: Laredo/Nuevo Laredo

Entry into Mexico: $2; Return to the USA: $1.83 (20 pesos).

If a border crossing fee is charged, it needs to be reasonable. The fees generated must also be regionally managed with good independent oversight and with all revenues raised dedicated to priority needs in the San Diego-Baja California region.

With 56 million annual crossers, a $1.25 toll at our port of entry could generate total collections of $70 million annually to fund regional border priorities in not just public health but also the environment, public safety and economic development. Our border region faces serious challenges. Left unattended, our border related problems will only become more serious and, in the long run, will cost us more money and have a direct negative impact on our regional economy and quality of life. Is nixing the idea of a border crossing fee, being pennywise and pound foolish?

What do you think?

RICHARD KIY

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