Mission

    The priority mission of the Border Patrol is preventing terrorists and terrorists weapons, including weapons of mass destruction, from entering the United States. Undaunted by scorching desert heat or freezing northern winters, they work tirelessly as vigilant protectors of our Nation's borders.

    While the Border Patrol has changed dramatically since its inception in 1924, its primary mission remains unchanged: to detect and prevent

    the illegal entry of individuals into the United States. Together with other law enforcement officers, the Border Patrol helps maintain borders that work - facilitating the flow of legal immigration and goods while preventing the illegal trafficking of people and contraband.

    The Border Patrol is specifically responsible for patrolling nearly 6,000 miles of Mexican and Canadian international land borders and over 2,000 miles of coastal waters surrounding the Florida Peninsula and the island of Puerto Rico. Agents work around the clock on assignments, in all types of terrain and weather conditions. Agents also work in many isolated communities throughout the United States.

    Border Patrol Staffing

    Since 1924, the Border Patrol has grown from a handful of mounted agents patrolling desolate areas along U.S. borders to today's dynamic work force of over 21,000 agents at the end of FY 2012.

    To ensure that the increased staffing and new resources provided by Congress were deployed in the most effective and efficient manner possible, the Immigration and Naturalization Service acted in early 1994 to develop and implement the agency's first National Border Patrol Strategy.

    The Border Patrol continues to operate an aggressive recruiting program to bring new Border Patrol agents into the government. Read more about Careers with the Border Patrol.

    All Border Patrol agents spend 13 weeks in training at the Border Patrol Academy in Artesia, New Mexico, which is a component of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.

    Border Patrol Operations

    The primary mission of the Border Patrol is to protect our Nation by reducing the likelihood that dangerous people and capabilities enter the United States between the ports of entry. This is accomplished by maintaining surveillance, following up leads, responding to electronic sensor alarms and aircraft sightings, and interpreting and following tracks. Some of the major activities include maintaining traffic checkpoints along highways leading from border areas, conducting city patrol and transportation check, and anti-smuggling investigations.

    Often, the border is a barely discernible line in uninhabited deserts, canyons, or mountains. The Border Patrol utilizes a variety of equipment and methods to accomplish its mission in such diverse terrain. Electronic sensors are placed at strategic locations along the border to detect people or vehicles entering the country illegally. Video monitors and night vision scopes are also used to detect illegal entries. Agents patrol the border in vehicles, boats, and afoot. In some areas, the Border Patrol even employs horses, all-terrain motorcycles, bicycles, and snowmobiles.

    Linewatch and Signcutting Linewatch operations are conducted near international boundaries and coast lines in areas of Border Patrol jurisdiction t o prevent the illegal entry and smuggling of individuals into the United States and to intercept those who do enter illegally before they can escape from border areas. Signcutting is the detection and the interpretation of any disturbances in natural terrain conditions that indicate the presence or passage of people, animals, or vehicles. Traffic Checkpoints Traffic checks are conducted on major highways leading away from the border to (1) detect and apprehend individuals attempting to travel further into the interior of the United States after evading detection at the border and (2) to detect illegal narcotics.

    Transportation Checks These are inspections of interior-bound conveyances, which include buses, commercial aircraft, passenger and freight trains, and marine craft. Click to read the U.S. Border Patrol transportation check brochure.

    Marine Patrol Along the coastal waterways of the United States and Puerto Rico and interior waterways common to the United States and Canada, the Border Patrol conducts border control activities from the decks of marine craft of various sizes. The Border Patrol maintains over 109 vessels, ranging from blue-water craft to inflatable-hull craft, in 16 sectors, in addition to Headquarters special operations components.

    Horse and Bike Patrol Horse units patrol remote areas along the international boundary that are inaccessible to standard all-terrain vehicles. Bike patrol aids city patrol and is used over rough terrain to support linewatch.

    Border Patrol Apprehensions

    In FY 2012, Border Patrol agents made over 364,000 arrests of people illegally entering the country. Considerable success has been achieved in restoring integrity and safety to the Southwest border, by implementing our border-control strategy. These include Operation Gatekeeper in San Diego, CA, Operation Hold the Line in El Paso, TX, Operation Rio Grande in McAllen, TX, Operation Safeguard in Tucson, AZ, and the Arizona Border Control Initiative (ABCI) along the Arizona border.

    Drug Seizures

    An increase in smuggling activities has pushed the Border Patrol to the front line of the U.S. war on drugs. Our role as the primary drug-interdicting organization along the Southwest border continues to expand.

    The heightened presence of Border Patrol agents along the Southwest border has burdened narcotic traffickers and human smugglers.

    In FY 2012, Border Patrol agents on the Southwest border seized more than 5,900 pounds of cocaine and more than 2.2 million pounds of marijuana.

    What happens at a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint?
    At these checkpoints, every motorist is stopped and asked about their immigration status. Agents do not need any suspicion to stop you and ask you questions at a lawful checkpoint, but their questions should be brief and related to verifying immigration status. They can also visually inspect your vehicle. more
    What are the cameras at Border Patrol checkpoints?
    “These towers are self-scanning, and they also have basically algorithms that pick up what are potential migrants or vehicles that are crossing around or near the border,” Agent Joel Freeland explained. The cameras can scan a radius of about 3 miles and will alert agents to possible migrants near the border. more
    What to expect at a Border Patrol checkpoint?
    At these checkpoints, every motorist is stopped and asked about their immigration status. Agents do not need any suspicion to stop you and ask you questions at a lawful checkpoint, but their questions should be brief and related to verifying immigration status. They can also visually inspect your vehicle. more
    Do you have to answer at Border Patrol checkpoint?
    Even though you always have the right to remain silent, if you don't answer questions to establish your citizenship, officials may deny you entry to the U.S. or detain you for search and/or questioning. Agents may search any person, the inside of any vehicle, and all passenger belongings. more
    How many Border Patrol checkpoints are in Texas?
    18 Texas' 18 Permanent United States Interior Border Checkpoints and the Area Bounded inside the Barriers (in dark gray) more
    What are the scanners at Border Patrol checkpoints?
    X-ray imaging technology has been used for years across the Department of Homeland Security to detect everything from drugs to explosives, in cargo, mail shipments, rail freight and at airports. At the southern border, that non-intrusive scanning technology has mostly been used during secondary inspections. more
    What do border Patrol checkpoints look for?
    Border Patrol may stop vehicles at certain checkpoints to: (1) ask a few, limited questions to verify citizenship of the vehicles' occupants and (2) visually inspect the exterior of a vehicle. Agents may send any vehicle to a secondary inspection area for the same purpose: brief questioning and visual inspection. more
    Do you have to answer questions at a Border Patrol checkpoint?
    If you are held at the checkpoint for more than brief questioning, you can ask the agent if you are free to leave. You always have the right to remain silent. However, if you don't answer questions to establish your citizenship, officials may detain you longer in order to verify your immigration status. more
    What are my rights at a Border Patrol checkpoint?
    If you are detained, you have the right to remain silent and the right to speak to an attorney. If you are a citizen of another country, you also have the right to speak with your consulate. You may be asked where you were born, how you entered the U.S. or how long you've been here. more
    How many Border Patrol checkpoints are there?
    Each year, more than 50 million vehicles pass through U.S. Border Patrol's interior immigration checkpoints. There are more than 110 checkpoints, located generally 25 to 100 miles from the southwest and northern borders along U.S. highways and secondary roads. more
    What are Border Patrol checkpoints looking for?
    At these checkpoints, every motorist is stopped and asked about their immigration status. Agents do not need any suspicion to stop you and ask you questions at a lawful checkpoint, but their questions should be brief and related to verifying immigration status. They can also visually inspect your vehicle. more

    Source: www.cbp.gov

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