ATLANTA – Fifteen years ago, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) became a Cabinet-level department to coordinate and oversee a national strategy to prevent terrorist and terrorist weapons from entering the United States.
Created after September 11, 2001, the move integrated 22 different federal departments and agencies, and unified efforts to secure the nation.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) was initially formed by combining inspectional and enforcement elements of the U.S. Customs Service, Immigration and Naturalization Service including the U.S. Border Patrol, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. In 2004, DHS transferred Air and Marine Operations to CBP where it became the agency’s experts in airborne and maritime law enforcement.
“The mission of CBP here in the Southeast and across the country is to safe guard America’s borders.” said Don Yando, Atlanta Director of CBP Field Operations. “We’re here to protect the American public from harmful people and things while also facilitating the entrance of legitimate trade and travelers in support of the US economy.”
Over the past 15 years, CBP has achieved major milestones toward protecting the nation while securing international trade and travel in an expeditious manner. Some highlights include deploying the Unmanned Aircraft System in 2004, arresting the New York City Times Square bomber in 2010 and returning to One World Trade Center in 2016, for the first time since September 11, 2001.
In 2014, CBP, Port of Atlanta at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) was on the front line responding to the Ebola threat. In 2016, CBP launched its first facial biometric demonstration at ATL for biometric exit in partnership with the airline.
What follows are a few highlights of CBP’s endeavors to keeping America safe.
2003 – President George W. Bush proposed to create the Department of Homeland Security subsequently forming U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
2004 – DHS transfers Air and Marine Operations from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to CBP.
2005 – CBP’s Air and Marine Operations first deploys the Predator B to enhance law enforcement operations along the Southwest Border.
2006 – CBP unified its air and marine assets under the management of CBP’s Office of Air and Marine, the largest civilian law enforcement air force in the world, and broke ground on the National Air Training Center facility in Oklahoma City.
2007 – CBP established the National Targeting Center-Cargo to identify high-risk cargo shipments destined to the United States.
2008 – CBP launched Global Entry, a Trusted Traveler program to expedite processing for pre-approved, low-risk travelers. Today there are more 1.4 million Global Entry members.
2009 – CBP agriculture specialist in Freeport, Texas discovers a weevil previously unknown and not currently described in science databases. CBP’s agriculture specialists work at 167 ports of entry protecting U.S. agriculture industries by intercepting invasive insects and plants and foreign animal and plant diseases.
2010 – CBP officers arrest the Times Square Bomber minutes before his international flight was to depart JFK. CBP supports humanitarian efforts following a devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti.
2011 – CBP made updates to critical infrastructure to open Ready Lanes at 14 border-crossing locations nationwide.
2012 – CBP introduced Centers of Excellence and Expertise to facilitate timely resolution of trade compliance issues nationwide. CEE’s trade experts help frontline CBP ports of entry to identify and seize more than $1.2 billion in counterfeit consumer imports annually.
2013 – CBP began managing the Tethered Aerostat Radar System, capable of detecting aircraft at a range of 200 miles.
2014 – CBP launches South Texas Campaign, a proactive corridor strategy that leverages federal, state and local resources to combat transnational criminal organizations.
2015 – CBP plays crucial role in 22-day search for two escaped Clinton Correctional Facility prisoners. CBP scientist provides pollen analysis leading to identification of Baby Doe and subsequent arrest of her murderer.