Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano is suggesting a border fee for everyone and everything that crosses into the U.S. to help pay for new customs agents. 

Nelson Balido, former president of the Border Trade Alliance, calls it a bad idea.

“When it comes to that person who wants to purchase products and services on the United States' side of the border, I think this discourages them,” he says.

Texas Congressman Henry Cuellar agrees.

“Every day there is $1.2 billion worth of trade between the U.S. and Mexico, that's only one country, it doesn't include Canada or other countries,” the Laredo Democrat tells KTRH News.

“I prefer to have general revenues pay for this, because this is something that should not borne by border communities, it affects all of us in one way or another,” says Cuellar.

However, Michelle Lopez with the Brownsville Economic Development Council says fees in the past didn't slow down crossings.

“If they need to go, no matter how much it is, they're going to cross,” says Lopez.  “We haven't seen a decrease in the number of crossings.”

Cuellar argues adding such a federal tax on border crossings would impact not only motorists and foot traffic, but cruise and airline passengers as well.

“They're already paying $7 for customs inspections, that would go up to at least $9,” he says.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection issued the following statement to KTRH News:

“The proposed land border user fee study is intended to assess options for broadening the user fee base to help ensure that resources and services are properly aligned across all ports of entry.  The study would include an analysis of the impact that collecting a fee would have on CBP operations, as well as on members of the trade and traveling public. CBP is committed to its dual mission of border security and facilitating legitimate trade and travel.”