Customs Border Patrol: Mission and Responsibility

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The real threat of terrorism makes the job of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection even more relevant in this day and age. With nearly 7,000 miles of international land borders and about 2,000 miles of coastal waters under its jurisdiction, the job of customs border patrol is definitely not a walk in the park. This does not even include the 95,000 miles of maritime border that it helps the United States Coast Guard patrol.

In the post 9/11 world, the core mission of the customs border patrol is seeing to it that terrorists and their weapons do not gain entry into the country. Certainly, the basic mission of ensuring that no illegal aliens or contraband enter the country still continues. The millions of containers and cargo that arrive in the sea and land borders of the United States every year have to be thoroughly checked by CBP personnel to ensure that these are properly taxed and that what it is inside will not compromise the safety and security of the American people.

However, not everything about the responsibility of customs border patrol should be viewed from the standpoint of negativity. They are also responsible for facilitating the entry of people who are legally allowed to visit or live in the United States. Reduced to its barest essence, the job of the CBP is two-fold: That of facilitating legal and safe trade and travel and protection.

The various jobs of specific customs border patrol employees all contribute to this purpose. The main responsibility of preventing the entry of illegal aliens and contraband into the United States falls into the hands of border patrol agents. The Office of Air and Marine of the CBP takes care of patrolling the land and sea borders of the country to ensure that terrorists and drug smugglers do not gain entry. And since the threats of bioterrorism and agro-terrorism are becoming all too real especially after the 9/11 attacks, the agriculture specialists of the CBP ensures that all the preventive measures are in place to avoid these from gaining entry to the United States. It is also part of their responsibility to make sure that no pests or animal diseases are able to enter the country through its borders.

To ensure that customs border patrol agents and specialists able to do their jobs more efficiently, the CBP has partnership programs in place with various countries and private institutions. They also make use of the different technologies to ensure that terrorists, weapons and illegal aliens are detected before they set foot on American soil. These technologies include X-ray gamma imaging systems, Personal Radiation Detectors, radiation isotope identifiers and radiation portal monitors. If there are suspicious containers, the Laboratories and Scientific Services Fast Response team of the CBP will check them out and take the proper course of action. They also use canines to detect explosives.

The career of a customs border patrol agent, officer or specialist is no doubt challenging. Even the road to becoming one is paved with obstacles. Aspiring agents must go through a rigorous screening process before being hired. Even after that, they will have to undergo training at the Border Patrol Academy where they will be taught subjects like law, firearms training and physical techniques training.


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