A look back throughout the years at the various awards received by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Agents demonstrates the variety of careers within this sector of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. For example, Agriculture Specialist Linda Holse, for stopping potentially devastating infested mangoes from entering the country on two separate occasions, and Oliver P. Tavizon, Rafael G. Garcia and Michael M. Munguia for cracking down on a human smuggling ring, were honored in 2008. In 2005, CBP Canine Handler Daniel Testa won a USIC Award; he and his K-9 partner Boro had successfully undertaken more than 100 seizures which equated to over 17,000 pounds of illegal drugs and approximately 700 illegal immigrants. Also in 2005, the name of CBP’s Anti-Terrorism Award was changed to the Diana Dean and Jose Melendez-Perez Anti-Terrorism Award in honor of the Border Patrol Agents responsible for stopping the “Millennium Bomber” and the “20th Highjacker”.
The U.S. Border Patrol’s key mission, according to the CBP.gov website, is “preventing terrorists and terrorists’ weapons, including weapons of mass destruction, from entering the United States”. Additionally CBP agents are responsible for facilitating the entry of legal and preventing the entry of illegal people and goods into the country. In 2011, CBP personnel were responsible for apprehending over 340,000 individuals, more than 2.5 million pounds of marijuana, almost 10,000 pounds of cocaine, over 45,000 rounds of ammunition, more than $14 million and other illegal goods. To accomplish these goals, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection consists of several professional roles.
Border Patrol Agents, who collectively protect 6,900 miles of border, and CBP Officers, who screen passengers and cargo at hundreds of ports of entry, account for the largest employment sector with more 20,000 personnel a piece. There are also approximately 1,000 agents who work for the air & marine division, more than 2,000 agriculture specialists and approximately 2,500 revenue specialists (i.e. import specialists) who work for the CBP.
For those who have earned their chops and proved their invaluable skills, there are three Border Patrol special operations groups. BORTAC (Border Patrol Tactical Unit) units are responsible for responding to emergencies immediately within the United States and even globally. BORSTAR (Border Patrol Search, Trauma, and Rescue Unit) units are called on immediately to assist with search and rescue missions across the country. Finally Border Patrol SRTs (Special Response Teams) are essential in providing tactical response to human and natural emergencies.
If you are interested in starting a career with the U.S. Border Patrol, a degree in homeland security, criminal justice or law enforcement will get you started. A background in law enforcement, military or security is also a strong asset. Most of all emotional maturity, a cooperative nature, a willingness to learn, hard work, keen problem solving skills and a commitment to protecting your country will ensure you have a successful Border Patrol career.