Historically, cargo entering the United States from any foreign territory has been subject to physical examination by the U.S. Government to verify that it complies with U.S. laws and regulations. After September 11, 2001, a new combined organization of Border Patrol, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, Agriculture Inspection, and the U.S. Customs Service became Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in the Department of Homeland Security. CBP now assumes a leading position in the defense of Homeland Security to protect the country against terrorists and weapons of mass destruction.
The CBP antiterrorism mission is not limited to the physical examination of cargo when it arrives in U.S. ports. CBP is also using intelligence from a number of sources to identify high-risk shipments in order to concentrate its inspectional resources on them. For example, under bilateral agreements as part of the Container Security Initiative, CBP inspectors work in nearly 20 foreign ports to help ensure the security of U.S.-bound cargo before it disembarks.
In addition, under the Trade Act of 2002, CBP will issue regulations providing for advanced electronic submission of cargo information for security purposes by October 2003.
Domestically, CBP is working with the thousands of companies who are members of the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism to emphasize security in the supply chain, so that CBP cargo examinations can be given even more selectively.
An important part of the CBP mission remains the facilitation of legitimate trade. In addition to its own regulations, CBP enforces over 400 laws on behalf of over 40 other U.S. Government agencies. A large number of these import restrictions and requirements are designed to protect the American people from dangerous and illegal goods. CBP has undertaken a number of initiatives, such as the use of non-intrusive inspection technology, to increase its ability to examine cargo effectively without slowing the flow of trade, which plays a significant part in the U.S. economy.