From a Dec. 4 report issued by Congressional Quarterly:

With carloads of people backed up trying to get into this country from Canada and Mexico, Congress has given a green light to a new way to clear the traffic jam: an entry fee.

The proposal, included in the fiscal 1991 appropriations bill for the Department of Justice, represents a victory for the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which has long sought more money to increase services as traffic has burgeoned at border checkpoints... .

The INS has yet to announce specific plans. But Hispanic Americans have voiced concerns that the fees would unfairly hit poor Mexicans and other Latin Americans whose lifestyles and livelihoods straddle the border... .

David Ray, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which supports tougher immigration controls, said a user fee is needed to handle increased traffic on the borders. "It's a privilege to cross the international border, and someone has to pay for the INS services," Ray said.

The poor, according to Ray, could pay a smaller fee or be issued a card exempting them from payment.

Ray points out that those who fly into the United States already pay a user fee as part of the cost of a ticket. Extending that fee, he says, would shore up the budget for border services.

"The INS traditionally gets stiffed at budget time," Ray said, "and a $2 crossing fee could raise up to $600 million annually." That would increase by two-thirds the fiscal 1991 INS budget of $900 million.