Imperial Beach Station
1802 Saturn Blvd.
San Diego, California 92154
From San Ysidro, Calif., the location of the busiest Port of Entry in the United States, to the glistening waters of the Pacific Ocean, the Imperial Beach Station has played a pivotal role in stanching the flow of illegal alien entries and narcotics into the United States. It was here that Operation Gatekeeper -- a comprehensive and progressive strategy to control our Nation's borders -- was launched on Oct. 1, 1994.
The Imperial Beach Station, established on March 3, 1985, is the most southwestern Border Patrol Station in the continental United States. It covers 135 square miles of Southern California and is nestled between the burgeoning city of Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico (est. pop. 2.2 million) and America's Finest City, San Diego, California (est. pop. 1.1 million.) Responsible for 5.5 miles of international border, the Imperial Beach Station is a microcosm of a variety of environments and Border Patrol operations.
Sandy beaches, rugged draws and canyons, mesas, marshlands, agricultural fields, horse ranches, residential and commercial areas are all encompassed in the Imperial Beach Station's area of operation. The Tijuana River meanders out of Mexico through the United States and into the Pacific Ocean, creating a river basin that runs the length of the border. Here, agents work twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year, along the border in a strategic deployment that gives the agents the upper hand in preventing, detecting and arresting those who would enter the country illegally. This strategy has proved so effective that the Imperial Beach Station, once the busiest station in the nation, saw a 77% decrease in arrests in just over two years.
Today, agents at the Imperial Beach Station perform a myriad of Border Patrol duties. Agents here use mountain bikes, rigid inflatable boats, all terrain vehicles (ATVs), horses, 4x4 off-road vehicles, and infra-red night scopes to maintain a vigilant presence on the border. Our agents are involved in anti-smuggling operations, intelligence gathering, prosecution of criminal aliens, and criminal alien removal programs that take illegal aliens, convicted of felonies, out of city, county, and state jails and send them back to their birth country.
The Imperial Beach Station also boasts a Community Relations Unit and the San Diego Sector's first ever Explorer Scouts Post. The Community Relations Unit was recognized by the Attorney General and received the U.S. Attorney General's Distinguished Service Award for their work with the community in support of Operation Gatekeeper. The Explorer Scout Post of the Imperial Beach Station has been the model by which other stations in the Sector have formed their posts.
The use of the bikes had the immediate impact of increasing agent morale and arrests. Agents were able to get into environmentally sensitive areas, alleys, and congested city streets. Agents ride Trek bikes, outfitted with Rock shocks for additional suspension, and lights for night travel. Agents learn bike handling and maintenance on the job, and unlike some city police departments bike units, agents ride over treacherous, uneven terrain, jumping muddy single tracks and dodging heavy deciduous brush. A popular biking magazine reporter once remarked, after spending a long day riding with them, "I was impressed." (Giles Mingason, Bicycle Guide, Biking the Border, February 1993.)
The Boat Unit is tasked with detecting and apprehending those who attempt to illegally enter the United States by way of the Pacific Ocean or the Tijuana River. Agents volunteer for this unit. Agents assigned to the Boat Unit are often deployed to assist the U.S. Coast Guard in maritime interdiction operations involving alien smuggling and narcotics.
The mission of the Imperial Beach Station Boat Unit often becomes one of mercy and compassion. Trained in both open water and river rescue techniques, the agents assigned to the Boat Unit are credited with saving the lives of those who have challenged the powerful ocean and river currents in their efforts to illegally enter the United States.
For more information about the San Diego Border Patrol Sector, please check our General Information section.