Spotlight: CBP

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is one of the largest and most complex components of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It also is the largest law enforcement agency in the United States, with a workforce of more than 58,000 employees, including officers and agents, agriculture specialists, aircraft pilots, trade specialists, mission support staff, and canine enforcement officers and agents. It was created on March 1, 2003, and incorporates what formerly were the separate U.S. Customs Service, Border Patrol, and the Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). In addition, CBP took on the inspection functions of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. While the agency’s primary mission is to keep terrorists and their weapons out of the United States, it also is responsible for apprehending other individuals attempting to enter the country illegally; stemming the flow of illegal drugs and other contraband; protecting agricultural and economic interests from harmful pests and diseases; protecting American businesses from intellectual property theft; and regulating and facilitating international trade, collecting import duties, and enforcing U.S. trade laws. In 2010, CBP officers at more than 330 ports of entry inspected 352 million travelers and more than 105.8 million cars, trucks, buses, trains, vessels, and aircraft.

CBP’s headquarters are located at 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., in Washington, D.C. Although the agency’s headquarters were scheduled to move (in 2016) to the new consolidated DHS headquarters complex on the site of the St. Elizabeths campus, during the third phase of this major construction project, federal budget cuts have made that move unlikely for the foreseeable future.

CBP also maintains 20 U.S. field operations offices that provide centralized management oversight and operational assistance to 327 U.S. air, land, and sea ports of entry. The CBP Field Operations Academy, which trains CBP officers and agriculture specialists for international airports, seaports and land border crossings, and other assignments worldwide, is located at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia. All border patrol agents are trained at the Border Patrol Academy in Artesia, New Mexico, which also is a component of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. Other CBP properties include the U.S. Customhouse in San Francisco, which was among the first construction projects undertaken after the 1906 earthquake and fire. The building, which was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975, recently celebrated its centennial, and continues to house CBP activities.