Feinstein wants entrance tolls at U.S. borders

July 01, 1993|By Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON -- Seeking to curtail illegal immigration, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., called yesterday for tough and controversial enforcement measures, including imposing a toll on anyone entering the United States, to raise revenues to build up the Border Patrol.

A $1-per-person "transit fee" on pedestrians and passengers crossing U.S. borders would have raised about $400 million last year -- enough money to more than double the Border Patrol's current annual budget, Ms. Feinstein said in a speech on the Senate floor.

A member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which plays a central role in immigration legislation, Ms. Feinstein introduced a six-point plan that proposes to increase penalties for smugglers convicted of transporting illegal immigrants, deport illegal immigrants who commit felonies to serve their sentences in foreign prisons and amend laws to prevent Medicaid abuses by nonresidents.

Prospects for the legislation in Congress were uncertain.

While parts of the proposals are contained in some 30 House bills dealing with immigration, Ms. Feinstein said she also intended to introduce her own legislation.

The toll proposal appears the most controversial.

Immigration specialists said such fees would require millions of dollars for the building and staffing of toll booths.

They pointed out that delays at border crossings would grow longer and that the Mexican government could reciprocate by charging fees.

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