Says resources needed to fill shortfall in customs & user fee revenue, prepare for border opening
Congressman Brian Higgins is pushing for the U.S. to lift border restrictions at the Canadian border. He is urging adequate funding to support staffing levels that allow for efficient operations when the border reopens.
In 1986, user fee collection was put in place to help offset U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspection costs at land, air and sea ports. Travel restrictions extended due to the COVID-19 pandemic decreased fee collection.
Last fall, Congress approved $840 million in emergency appropriations to fill custom fee revenue gaps created by pandemic border restrictions and to ensure adequate staffing levels at land ports of entry in fiscal year 2021.
Higgins is calling for similar resources for federal FY 2022, which begins in October, writing in a letter to House of Representatives appropriators, “The FY22 Homeland Security Appropriations bill must address these ongoing revenue shortfalls. Until US-Canada border operations normalize, I expect these revenue shortfalls to persist. In addition, this bill is an opportunity to ensure land ports of entry have adequate staffing and robust funding for border infrastructure which will make international travel and commerce more efficient and more secure. I wholly support a funding bill which makes these necessary and forward-thinking investments.”
The U.S.-Canada border first closed to nonessential travel in March 2020. On Aug. 9, 2021, the Canadian government reopened the border to allow vaccinated Americans to enter Canada. The U.S. government failed to reciprocate, instead extending travel restrictions for another 30-days. The existing order is set to expire Aug. 21.
Higgins, who serves as co-chair of the Canada-U.S. interparliamentary group, has been pushing for the U.S. to reopen its border to Canadians, insisting it is both a humanitarian issue for families who have been separated for a year-and-a-half; and an economic issue for border communities, like the Buffalo-Niagara Region, which rely on Canadian visitors to feed the economy.
“The inability to account for this lost revenue threatens to disrupt the resumption of normal cross-border travel and commerce along the northern border,” Higgins said.