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CBP Through the Years

Representatives of CBP's three uniformed offices: Border Patrol, Air and Marine and Field Operations.

On March 1, 2003, U.S. Customs and Border Protection became the nation’s first comprehensive border security agency with a focus on maintaining the integrity of the nation’s boundaries and ports of entry.

Before CBP, security, compliance and facilitation of international travel and trade were conducted by multiple organizations. The consolidation of these roles and responsibilities allowed CBP to develop seamless security procedures while ensuring compliance with the nation’s immigration, health, and international trade laws and regulations.

In establishing CBP, its leadership ensured that the best traditions of its legacy agencies continued from:

  • U.S. Customs Service, which traced its original functions to July 31, 1789, and noted its role as the progenitor of numerous federal bureaus and agencies. The Customs Service closed with the dawn of CBP, but its commissioner became the leader of CBP and the majority of its staff and responsibilities came to CBP.
  • Immigration inspectors, who traced their responsibilities to the establishment of the Office of the Superintendent of Immigration on March 3, 1891.
  • Agriculture inspectors, who traced their roles to the passage of the Plant Quarantine Act on Aug. 20, 1912.
  • Border Patrol agents, who brought their responsibility for maintaining the integrity of the U.S. borders as they have done since Congress authorized the hiring of Border Patrol personnel on May 28, 1924.
  • In addition to this core of specialties and responsibilities present at CBP’s founding, CBP also developed an air and marine monitoring capability with the formation of its third uniformed division, the Office of Air and Marine on Jan. 17, 2006.

The uniformed ranks are only a portion of CBP’s specialized corps. They are joined by forensic scientists, international trade specialists, public affairs officers and cadres of other specialists and employees who work together to make CBP’s processes more secure, cost effective and efficient.

Because of the work of the people of CBP, the nation’s borders and the American communities around them have never been more secure. But there is much more to be done. As CBP progresses into its second decade, the nation will see a fully integrated approach to international security, trade and travel that makes the world safer, facilitates international travel and trade, and drives the continuous improvement of CBP’s operations.

President Obama tours CBP operations in El Paso, Texas.

President Obama tours CBP operations, El Paso, Texas.