CBP's first commissioner, Robert C. Bonner, right, explains port security operations to President George W. Bush and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge.
President George W. Bush proposed on June 6, 2002 the creation of the Department of Homeland Security to unite agencies charged with protecting the homeland. He outlined four essential missions that corresponded to the four proposed divisions in the department:
- Border and Transportation Security to control the borders and prevent terrorists and explosives from entering the country.
- Emergency Preparedness and Response to work with state and local authorities to respond quickly and effectively to emergencies.
- Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Countermeasures to bring together the country’s best scientists to develop technologies that detect biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons to best protect citizens.
- Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection to review intelligence and law enforcement information from all agencies of government, and produce a single daily picture of threats against the homeland.
On June 18, 2002, President Bush formally submitted his proposal to Congress, including his proposed text for the Homeland Security Act of 2002. Six days later, Rep. Richard Armey introduced the president’s proposed legislation to the House of Representatives as H.R. 5005. After amendments in committee, the bill passed the House on July 26, 2002. The Senate passed the bill with amendments on November 19, 2002, and the president signed the Homeland Security Act of 2002 into law on November 25, 2002.
On the same day he signed the bill into law, President Bush submitted a plan to Congress that outlined the time frame for the organization of the new department. The plan established March 1, 2003, as the date on which the majority of the previously existing agencies, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Transportation Security Administration, the Coast Guard, the Customs Service, and the Secret Service would be transferred to the new department. On March 1, 2003, CBP was formed, and for the first time, border security responsibilities were placed together.