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  4. U.S. Border Patrol Celebrates 100th Anniversary

U.S. Border Patrol Celebrates 100th Anniversary

Release Date
Fri, 05/17/2024
El Paso Sector
For More Information
Landon Hutchens (202) 407-4241;

WASHINGTON –The U.S. Border Patrol is set to celebrate 100 years of protecting the nation’s borders with a series of public commemorative events in El Paso, Texas.

“This year, the United States Border Patrol reaches its centennial year: a rare milestone marking our ability to overcome every challenge, endure every hardship, and win every battle along the way,” said U.S. Border Patrol Chief Jason Owens. “It is an homage to our collective resilience across a difficult journey through time. On this important occasion, we recognize, honor, and thank the tens of thousands who have selflessly donned the Border Patrol uniform or stood beside those who have.”

 For a century, Border Patrol agents have been entrusted with protecting the American people through our border and national security missions. Although laws, threats, and challenges have evolved over time, the Border Patrol’s core values of vigilance, service to country, and integrity have stood resolute over the last 100 years.

“Without exaggeration, the entirety of the Border Patrol’s existence has had a profound and positive impact on our nation’s history,” said Chief Owens. “The legacy of every single Border Patrol employee is captured in what we do every day in our efforts to secure the border, save lives, and safeguard our communities.”

 From mid-May to early-June, U.S. Border Patrol will commemorate this important milestone with events across sectors nationwide.  The central location for the celebrations will be in El Paso, Texas, where Border Patrol “Station One” opened its doors in 1924. The Border Patrol and El Paso’s histories are interwoven – for a century, the U.S. Border Patrol, El Paso Sector has been largely comprised of locals who have made the noble choice to serve and protect their communities. 

 “While we are looking back and recognizing the proud and storied history of the United States Border Patrol, it is also a time to chart our future and the path forward,” added Chief Owens. “We will continue to recruit the best possible people to join our ranks and equip them with the tools and training they need to carry the torch ahead for the next 100 years.”

 El Paso

 The U.S. Border Patrol extends an invitation to our distinguished media partners to join us for these two important events for the 100-year anniversary of the U.S. Border Patrol.

Friday, May 24 at 9 a.m. MDT

Annual Fallen Agent Memorial Service 

U.S. Border Patrol Museum

4315 Trans Mountain Road, El Paso, Texas


Saturday, May 25, 9 a.m. MDT

Centennial National Parade 

Parade starts and stops at the El Paso Convention Center and circles San Jacinto Plaza

Media section will be at intersection of Main and Mesa in downtown El Paso

Media partners should RSVP by Tuesday, May 22 to All media should arrive with proper credentials no later than 8:30 a.m. for both events.

“El Paso is such a fitting place to commemorate this significant milestone, it is where the legend began,” said El Paso Sector Chief Patrol Agent Anthony Scott Good. “So many foundational events in the Border Patrol’s history occurred right here in El Paso – like advancements that have impacted our operations nationwide to this day.”

A brief look at USBP History

The United States Border Patrol has a unique history that in many ways, parallels the growth of the nation as an international force during the 20th century, also dubbed by Time Magazine’s publisher Henry Luce, “the American Century.” Border Patrol’s roots date to as early as 1904, when mounted watchmen of the U.S. Immigration Service patrolled the border to prevent illegal crossings. These inspectors operated out of El Paso, Texas, patrolling as far west as California trying to restrict the flow of illegal Chinese immigration. Through the 1910s and into the 1920s, the need for a coordinated border effort only intensified, particularly when Prohibition and expanded immigration restrictions went into effect. In March 1915, Congress authorized a separate group of Mounted Guards assigned to inspection stations; their work was initially supplemented by military troops and Texas Rangers along the southwest border. Illegal crossings and customs violations, however, continued to increase, so in 1918, Supervising Inspector Frank W. Berkshire wrote to the Commissioner-General of Immigration expressing his concerns about the lack of a coordinated, adequate effort to enforce immigration and customs laws along the border with Mexico.

As Prohibition went into effect in 1920, and with limits placed on immigration by the Immigration Acts of 1921 and 1924, the mission of the Border Patrol became one of the government’s central concerns. As a result, on May 28, 1924, Congress passed the Labor Appropriation Act of 1924, officially establishing the U.S. Border Patrol for the purpose of securing the borders between inspection stations. In 1925 its duties were expanded to patrolling the seacoast. Officers were quickly recruited for the new positions, with the Border Patrol soon expanding to 450 officers. Many of the early agents were recruited from organizations such as the Texas Rangers, local sheriffs and deputies, and appointees from the Civil Service Register of Railroad Mail Clerks. The government initially provided the agents a badge and revolver, while recruits furnished their own horse and saddle, with Washington supplying oats and hay for the horses and a $1,680 annual salary for the agents. Agents did not have uniforms until 1928.

By 1932, the Border Patrol was placed under the authority of two directors, one in charge of the Mexican border office in El Paso, the other in charge of the Canadian border office in Detroit. When President Franklin D. Roosevelt took office, he combined the Bureau of Immigration and the Bureau of Naturalization into the Immigration and Naturalization Service in 1933. The first Border Patrol Academy opened as a training school at Camp Chigas, El Paso, in December 1934. Thirty-four trainees attended classes in marksmanship and horsemanship. Although horses remained the transportation of choice for many years, by 1935, the Border Patrol soon began using motorized vehicles with radios.

The workload and accomplishments of the Patrol remained constant until 1940, when the Immigration Service was moved from the Department of Labor to the Department of Justice. After that, duties continued to steadily expand to meet new challenges brought on not just by the war, but also by the changing socio-political climate within and outside the United States. By the end of WWII, over 1,400 people were employed by the Border Patrol in law enforcement and civilian positions. During the war, the Patrol provided tighter control of the border, manned detention camps, guarded diplomats, and assisted the U.S. Coast Guard in searching for Axis saboteurs. After the war, 1952 legislation codified and carried forward the main tenets of the 1917 and 1924 acts. That same year, Border Patrol agents were first permitted to board and search a conveyance for illegal immigrants anywhere in the United States, and for the first time, illegal entrants traveling within the country were subject to arrest. In cooperation with other federal services, the Border Patrol also began tracking suspect flights. By the 1960s, the business of human smuggling began to involve drug smuggling, so as a result, Border Patrol assisted other agencies in intercepting illegal drugs from Mexico. The 1980s and 1990s saw a tremendous increase of illegal migration to the U.S., so the Border Patrol responded with increases in manpower and the implementation of modern technology.

In an effort to bring a level of control to the border during that era, the Border Patrol undertook a series of successful operations: Operation "Hold the Line," for instance, was established in 1993 in El Paso, and proved an immediate success. Operation "Gatekeeper" was implemented in 1994, reducing illegal entries in San Diego by more than 75% over the next few years. With illegal entries at a more manageable level, the Patrol turned attention to other areas, such as establishing anti-smuggling units and search and rescue teams such as Border Patrol Search, Trauma and Rescue (BORSTAR) or the Border Safety Initiative (BSI), created in 1998 in cooperation with the Mexican government.

After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, homeland security became a primary national concern, so border security again became a topic of increased interest in Washington. On March 1, 2003, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was established, and the U.S. Border Patrol became part of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a component of DHS. The 21st century promises see the modernization of the Patrol advance at a dizzying rate as specialized technology holds increasing potential to assist agents in fulfilling the Border Patrol’s mission. Cooperation with neighboring countries also holds hope to increase border safety and law enforcement. The future of the U.S. Border Patrol is sure to be as exciting and interesting as its past and will continue to echo the motto that agents have lived by since 1924.

Today, the U.S. Border Patrol is a sophisticated force of almost 19,000 agents, employing advanced technology to manage and protect more than 8,000 miles of land and coastal U.S. borders. Its mission to prevent unauthorized entries and uphold national security remains as vital as ever. 

For more information about the centennial events or media inquiries, please contact the CBP’s Office of Public Affairs at

Last Modified: May 17, 2024