May 15-21 is National Police Week — a time for everyone in law enforcement to consider the sacrifice and commitment of those who work to protect America. That includes the brave men and women of CBP: U.S. Border Patrol agents, CBP officers, and Air and Marine agents. As a former police officer and police chief — and as CBP Commissioner — I have attended enough funerals to know not only the terrible human cost, but the price our communities pay each time we lose one of our own.
And CBP is, first and foremost, a law enforcement agency. It’s who we are and it’s what we do: we enforce customs and immigration laws to keep our country safe and secure. In fact, we’re the largest law enforcement agency in the nation, and roughly two-thirds of our employees wear a badge. They inspect millions of travelers and cargo containers every year. They intercept dangerous drugs and seize counterfeit merchandise and illicit currency. They arrest wanted criminals, they patrol thousands of miles along our borders — on land and sea and in the air. They assist in search and rescue operations and they help other law enforcement agencies catch fugitives.
Since CBP was formed as part of the Department of Homeland Security in 2003, 34 of our officers and agents have lost their lives while performing their duties. More than 200 agents and officers and agriculture specialists from CBP’s legacy agencies have died since 1791.
Let us remember and honor the courage and dedication of our fallen CBP agents and officers, today and every day.