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Posted by David V. Aguilar, Deputy Commissioner, U.S. Customs and Border Protection
During the month of March, and throughout 2013, we are commemorating the tenth anniversary of the Department of Homeland Security. In recognition of this important milestone, leaders from across the Department and its component agencies will be discussing their beginnings, their present operations, and what’s to come.
I recently sat down to answer a few questions on U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), looking back at its history, and ahead to its future. CBP joins with our colleagues across the DHS enterprise in marking a decade of unprecedented achievement in serving our Nation and the American people.
How did CBP operate when it was created in 2003, and what were some of the challenges that the new agency faced?
Ten years ago, men and women from four different agencies, united by the threat of imminent terrorism, came together to create the world’s first comprehensive border enforcement and facilitation agency. CBP became responsible for protecting our country from all threats, with antiterrorism being our top priority. At the time, the stakes were high and roadmaps were nonexistent, but we came together as an agency built on pride, relentless effort and strength of character.
How does CBP operate today, and what have been some important milestones?
Today, the 60,000 men and women of CBP secure more than 8,000 miles of land and coastal borders as we supplement and strengthen DHS’ multilayered approach to security. Through the unprecedented deployments of personnel, technology, infrastructure, and other resources, DHS has strengthened security across all U.S. borders while facilitating international travel and trade. We screen cargo and passengers at more than 400 air, land and sea port locations. We protect U.S. agricultural resources by preventing the introduction of disease or pests from overseas. We have established important partnerships with government, military, private industry and our citizens to enhance security and efficiency of processes. And we protect and insure our country’s economic prosperity and competitiveness.
On a typical day, CBP:
- Processes nearly a million passengers entering the country;
- Inspects 66,000 truck rail and sea containers;
- Seizes nearly 6 tons of illicit drugs;
- And apprehends more than a thousand individuals for violations or outstanding criminal warrants.
What do you see as the future of CBP, and of the larger DHS?
In the ten years since the creation of this agency, I am proud to say that the men and women of CBP have risen to every challenge and have built a strong foundation for administering the world’s most secure and efficient borders. Looking ahead, we will continue working to make our processes efficient and effective. Our guiding principle is that security and facilitation are interrelated, complementary responsibilities that must be mutually supportive.
Our borders are more secure today than ever before, and that is a testament to the diligence of the men and women of CBP who work on the front lines to keep us safe.., and the U.S. will continue to be true to its ideals by continuing to be a welcoming and safe nation.