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United States Customs and Border Protection Agency


The research paper is devoted to the United States Customs and Border Protection. The agency that is discussed in the paper was established in 2003 when the Customs Service was restructured. Significant organizational changes were caused by the necessity to coordinate the work of different agencies responsible for border protection to reduce the threat of additional terroristic acts following the Twin Towers tragedy. Nowadays, specialists working in CBP utilize a wide range of tools helping to prevent the entry of illegal immigrants and the members of banned organizations into the United States. The responsibilities of the agency include the enforcement of trade laws to prevent the growth of the underground economy. Also, the laws are enforced to reduce the risk of environmental disorders caused by the import of plants and animals capable of causing damage to the natural resources of the United States.

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There is no doubt that every country with a developed economy possesses enough resources that can be attractive to foreigners. Considering the great number of individuals who make attempts to conduct illegal activity in the United States, the importance of agencies responsible for border protection cannot be overstated. The United States Customs and Border Protection is one of the agencies of the Homeland Security Department in the United States. The discussed agency was established fourteen years ago to fulfill a range of important tasks related to the safety of common citizens and organizations in the United States. In particular, specialists working for the agency are supposed to enforce laws related to international trade, prevent illegal import and export of goods, reduce illegal immigration to the United States, and mitigate the threat of terrorist attacks. Using numerous ways to prevent violations of laws, the agency focuses on reducing external threats that exist for common citizens in the United States.

The History of the Agency

The agency was established fourteen years ago to unite efforts of different groups responsible for border protection. Among the factors that acted as prerequisites to the establishment of the given agency, there was the absence of the particular organization responsible for border security protection and controlling the observation of trade and immigration laws. Before the establishment of the agency, these functions were fulfilled by different organizations. The decision to create the agency responsible for all these tasks by reorganizing other services was supposed to increase the effectiveness of border security in the United States and use a more comprehensive approach to the protection of national security. Also, there was another factor that encouraged the establishment of CBP in the country.

The initiative to improve the system of national defense in the United States was strictly interconnected with the tragic events that took place in 2001. After the terrorist attacks in September when the Twin Towers were damaged, it was extremely important for the government to implement changes that would allow strengthening the national security system (Schweinberger, Petrescu-Prahova, & Vu, 2014). There was a range of problems that the establishment of the new agency was supposed to solve. To begin with, legitimate trade and travel needed to be facilitated together with reducing illegal immigration that could become the cause of the increased presence of terrorist organizations in the United States. Another problem that needed to be managed was the necessity to strengthen the national security system by enlarging the number of frontier guards. At the same time, to mitigate external threats existing for the country more effectively, it was pivotal to strengthen links between border patrol and intelligence organizations whose concerted efforts would be detrimental to terrorists’ plans.

The Department of Homeland Security and CBP were established in 2003, and a lot has changed in the organizational structure of the latter since that time (Hu, Knox, & Kapucu, 2014). Apart from the restructuring of the United States Customs Service, which was responsible for collecting entry charges and performing other border security tasks, important changes were related to the appearance of new departments and offices in CBP. For instance, before 2005, there was no department responsible for enforcing maritime and air laws of the United States in the organizational structure of CBP. Eleven years ago, “air and marine assets” were consolidated into one of the divisions of the discussed agency (“2006: Air and marine join CBP,” 2014, para. 3). A year after, another significant change was implemented to the organizational structure of the agency as it was decided to reorganize two units of the Border Patrol to establish a new working group responsible for the timely delivery of the equipment for emergency use. Therefore, the coordinators of the agency have managed to facilitate the faster response of the Border Patrol in emergencies that require taking urgent steps.

The Current Structure and Tasks of the Agency

The structure of the discussed agency presents a complicated system of departments responsible for various tasks about national security and border protection. The organization is headed by the commissioner who possesses decision-making power and is allowed to approve significant changes related to CBP working practices and strategy. The acting commissioner of the organization is Kevin McAleenan, he was chosen as the leader of CBP at the beginning of this year (“Leadership/organization,” 2017). Being the leader of the organization, he has a wide range of responsibilities. For instance, the commissioner of the agency is supposed to supervise the performance of the employees and the entire departments and make decisions related to budget management. Also, the discussed role involves making decisions helping to protect and promote the key values that were identified during the establishment of the organization at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Taking into account that it is extremely difficult for one person to manage such a large organization, the role of a deputy commissioner has been introduced.

The latter is supposed to provide the head of the organization with assistance, helping him to manage important processes. Nowadays, work-related tasks performed by CBP are extremely diversified, and this is why there are six key offices in the organization that are responsible for various tasks. The Office of Field Operations is known as the largest element in the agency’s internal structure. In terms of the primary tasks of the department, the latter is charged with performing operations aimed at protecting the agricultural diversity in the United States; the unlawful import of endangered species is prohibited as it may cause environmental diseases in different countries. Also, specialists working in the department are responsible for conducting operations reducing the threat of terrorist attacks existing for the United States. Also, they have the authority to enforce immigration laws and control compliance with international trade laws. With the help of its efforts, it becomes easier for foreign companies to conduct trade by the adopted laws. In its turn, the work of the Office of Field Operations has a positive impact on the economy of the United States. Specialists working in the department have access to personal details and immigration-related information of each individual willing to cross the border (“CBP introduction,” 2013).

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Also, they have the right to stop and detain those people who try to carry prohibited items such as illegal drugs, weapons, and potentially dangerous items that can be used to organize terrorist attacks. Considering that there are numerous attempts to violate trade laws, OFO officers can also detain those people trying to carry fake goods or goods without proper certificates that can threaten the health of American citizens. Specialists who work at the ports of entry do their best to prevent the export of endangered species and the import of animals transmitting infectious agents that can be detrimental to the natural resources of the United States. The office controls international trade operations and inflicts penalties if the laws of the United States are violated, and these tasks are aimed at achieving two goals. The latter include ensuring financial stability in the country and eliminating the sources of income of illegal organizations that can be responsible for terrorist attacks in different countries.

Among the tasks of specialists from OFO, there is the design and implementation of canine enforcement programs. As for the latter, they have a significant influence on the performance of CBP officers as they increase crime detection rates related to illegal drug trafficking or the carriage of explosives. Also, these trained dogs play an extremely important role in reducing international human trafficking that still presents one of the most significant issues. The number of teams working with detecting dogs that have been formed in the discussed department exceeds one thousand, and the work of these teams also acts as a roadblock to the carriage of unreported money (Gonzales, 2016). The use of canine teams is often regarded as the most effective tool helping to prevent the organization of terroristic acts aimed at intimidation of the American population. Apart from using trained dogs to protect national security and prevent the import of illegal items, specialists from OFO provide other agencies with assistance, discussing the theory and practice of detection dog training.

Air and Marine Operations presents another organizational unit of CBP whose aim is to use sky and naval forces of the country in an effective way that would allow reducing the threat of terroristic acts and protecting common citizens of the United States. The department actively collaborates with other organizations to fulfill its primary mission and ensure the national security of the United States. Its aviation resources include more than twenty types of air vehicles that are the most appropriate for tactical missions. Among them, there are about ten fixed-wing air vehicles. Using a combination of the fastest air vehicles and maritime vessels, CBP officers from the department cooperate with other federal agencies to prevent the occurrence of emergencies threatening the security of people in the United States. In Air and Marine Operations, two types of agents conduct special operations that involve the use of vehicles. It often happens that two types of vehicles are used together to conduct missions aimed at preventing illegal drug trafficking.

The Border Patrol of the United States presents another important component of the organizational structure of CBP. Just like OFO, it is considered to be one of the largest law enforcement organizations in the country. Similar to other departments of CBP, its primary goal is to prevent the entry of individuals violating immigration laws or posing a threat to national security. The working strategy of the department has been changed many times. The most recent version of its key objectives and the approach to ensuring national security was formulated twelve years ago. According to the latter, the key tasks of the Border Patrol include making efforts to prevent the entry of the members of illegal organizations into The United States, reducing any kind of illicit trade violating the laws of the country, and protecting the safety of the members of border communities. Also, specialists working in the department do their best to implement the fruits of scientific progress to make crime prevention strategies even more effective.

The primary task that the department fulfills is the detection of potential criminals at the land border with the help of modern tracking equipment. Specialists from the department initiated a range of programs helping to increase the degree to which various law enforcement units are coordinated. For instance, there are three groups responsible for facilitating special operations conducted by the department. One such group, Border Patrol, Search, Trauma, and Rescue, was created to deal with people who manage to enter the United States illegally (Cannon, 2013). The creation of this specialized team was due to the position of Mexicans trying to find an alternate way to cross the border. At the end of the 1990s, there was a dramatic increase in lethal cases among individuals crossing the border illegally (Kolb, 2015). Nowadays, the group utilizes a wide range of tools helping to provide such individuals with assistance and prevent the violation of the law. In addition to various types of rescue equipment helping specialists from the team to decrease the number of accidents, team members fall back upon the help of specially trained animals.

The Impact of the Agency

Fifteen years ago, the Department of Homeland Security was established due to the need to coordinate the efforts of different organizations responsible for security protection. The United States Customs Service was renamed when it became a part of the new department. After that, a wide range of changes was implemented in the work of the service. When the new agency was being established, it was decided to define a range of working practices that had been used earlier that CBP would continue to apply. CBP inherited the majority of responsibilities of the Customs Service, and specialists who used to work in the agency joined CBP. The details concerning these structural changes were unobvious for common citizens of the United States. Nevertheless, the establishment of CBP was connected with the implementation of new acts and rules that people had to follow. One of the brightest examples of such changes was the creation of the new list of items that could not be transported by tourists traveling by air. According to the new rules, individuals traveling by air were deprived of an opportunity to carry some items of everyday use that could pose a threat to other passengers’ life and health.

CBP belongs to the organizations reducing unauthorized entry to the country and preventing people from importing and exporting prohibited goods. Unauthorized immigration to the United States can be listed among the most important problems about border security due to numerous negative effects that it produces. The nature of the problem is complicated because there are different opinions concerning the impact of illegal immigrants on economic development and other aspects of social life. As for the term “illegal immigration”, it is used to describe the entry into any country without the permission of authorities. The group of illegal immigrants includes those individuals who make attempts to cross the border of the country even though they have no right to do that. Also, foreign citizens staying in the United States after the expiration of documents allowing them to travel or work in the territory of the country are considered to be illegal immigrants (Zong & Batalova, 2017).

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Nowadays, the United States Border Patrol (one of the agencies within CBP) is the organization that prevents terrorists or other individuals who can pose a threat to public order in the United States from entering the country. Nevertheless, before the establishment of CBP and other agencies aimed at border protection the immigration rules were less strict. In the 1920s, the authorities of the United States decided to implement additional rules that foreign citizens willing to live in the country had to follow. The Johnson-Reed Act was passed in the middle of that decade, and it was the first law imposing specific limits on immigration to the United States (Roman, 2016). The adoption of the discussed act had a significant influence on the system of rules for immigrants.

In particular, it involved the use of immigration restrictions based on the nationality of individuals willing to enter the United States. The implementation of this act and other laws adopted in the middle of the twentieth century was supposed to strengthen the position of American citizens and ensure that the latter have enough resources. Nevertheless, considering that the United States attracts numerous people from less developed countries, the number of illegal immigrants is still high – it exceeds eleven million people (Zong & Batalova, 2017). Due to the efforts of the Border Patrol, the government of the United States manages to stem the tide of illegal immigrants trying to enter the country. In particular, the latter is responsible for patrolling six thousand miles of the U.S. borders (“Border Patrol overview,” 2015). The concerted efforts of different departments of CBP can be regarded as one of the primary factors reducing criminals’ chances to conduct illegal activities.


In the end, the United States Customs and Border Protection is the organization whose contribution to preserving national security in the country is difficult to overestimate. To establish the discussed agency, the government needed to restructure the Customs Service. Nowadays, CBP is responsible for reducing the number of illegal immigrants entering the country, mitigating the threat of terroristic acts, and enforcing trade laws to prevent the growth of the underground economy and environmental disorders. The internal structure of CBP presents a system based on the principle of task diversification. The key security tasks are distributed among a few departments using aircraft, specially trained animals, maritime transport, rescue equipment, and tracking systems to enforce the laws of the United States and reduce the threat of terroristic acts.


2006: Air and marine joins CBP. (2014). Web.

Border Patrol overview. (2015). Web.

Cannon, M. (2013). Law enforcement and the long gun: Do we need a new face in the fight? The Journal of Emergency Medicine, 45(5), 710-713.

CBP introduction. (2013). Web.

Gonzales, S. (2016). Border crossings, internal checkpoints, and the Fourth Amendment in the Southern District. California Western Law Review, 52(2), 2.

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Hu, Q., Knox, C. C., & Kapucu, N. (2014). What have we learned since September 11, 2001? A network study of the Boston marathon bombings response. Public Administration Review, 74(6), 698-712.

Kolb, J. J. (2015). Search and rescue on the border. The elite BORSTAR search and rescue team provides care for all in need. EMS World, 44(11), 42-45.

Leadership/organization. (2017). Web.

Roman, M. (2016). Making race in the twentieth-and-twenty-first-century United States. Journal of American Ethnic History, 35(3), 99-103.

Schweinberger, M., Petrescu-Prahova, M., & Vu, D. Q. (2014). Disaster response on September 11, 2001 through the lens of statistical network analysis. Social Networks, 37, 42-55.

Zong, J., & Batalova, J. (2017). Frequently requested statistics on immigrants and immigration in the United States. Web.

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