Individuals seeking entry into the United States are inspected at Ports of Entry (POEs) by CBP officers who determine their admissibility. The inspection process includes all work performed in connection with the entry of aliens and United States citizens into the United States, including preinspection performed by the Immigration Inspectors outside the United States.
"An officer is responsible for determining the nationality and identity of each applicant for admission and for preventing the entry of ineligible aliens, including criminals, terrorists, and drug traffickers, among others. U.S. citizens are automatically admitted upon verification of citizenship; aliens are questioned and their documents are examined to determine admissibility based on the requirements of the U.S. immigration law."
Under the authority granted by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended, a CBP officer may question, under oath, any person coming into the United States to determine his or her admissibility. In addition, an inspector has authority to search without warrant the person and effects of any person seeking admission, when there is reason to believe that grounds of exclusion exist which would be disclosed by such search.
The INA is based on the law of presumption: an applicant for admission is presumed to be an alien until he or she shows evidence of citizenship; an alien is presumed to be an immigrant until he or she proves that he or she fits into one of the nonimmigrant classifications.
The mission of the inspections program is to control and guard the boundaries and borders of the United States against the illegal entry of aliens. In a way that:
- Functions as the initial component of a comprehensive, immigration enforcement system;
- Prevents the entry of terrorists, drug traffickers, criminals, and other persons who may subvert the national interest;
- Deters illegal immigration through the detection of fraudulent documents and entry schemes;
- Initiates prosecutions against individuals who attempt or aid and abet illegal entry;
- Cooperates with international, Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to achieve mutual objectives;
- Contributes to the development and implementation of foreign policy related to the entry of persons;
- Facilitates the entry of persons engaged in commerce, tourism, and/or other lawful pursuits;
- Respects the rights and dignity of individuals;
- Examines individuals and their related documents in a professional manner;
- Assists the transportation industry to meet its requirements;
- Responds to private sector interests, in conformance with immigration law;
- Continues to employ innovative methods to improve the efficiency and cost effectiveness of the inspections process.