U.S. Customs and Border Protection is among the federal government’s younger entities, but many of its roles and responsibilities can be traced back before all the original states had ratified the U.S. constitution. The CBP History Program is reviewing the major responsibilities of CBP to show their origins and how their development continues to impact how CBP works and serves the nation.
The ensign is the official flag of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Its origin dates to 1799. It was originally employed to identify U.S. revenue cutters and customs vessels and their power to enforce federal laws and regulations. The U.S. Congress mandated its use so that these ships would be distinguished from other vessels.
In July 1789, the U.S. Congress passed a series of acts that established the legal structure for assessing and collecting customs duties. While two of the acts established what was subject to duties and the structure of the duties, the act of July 31, 1789, created the staff positions to collect duties and administer customs.
In June 2009, rules went into effect that more precisely defined the types of documents that may be presented at ports of entry to demonstrate that an individual may enter the U.S. The evolution of documents used by travelers for border-crossing began in the 19th century.
On May 26, 1924, Congress made sweeping changes to immigration policy for the U.S. The Congress enacted legislation that imposed numeric limits on immigration and created a category of “entry without inspection,” labeling those who cross U.S. borders without being processed at official ports of entry.