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An Overview of the Border Patrol

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From only a few agents patrolling the borders of the United States in 1924, the Customs and Border Protection has grown into a workforce of 20,000 strong men and women dedicated to ensuring that no terrorists and/or their weapons can enter the country!

The work of The Border Patrol involves patrolling close to 6,000 miles of Mexican and Canadian international borders and more than 2,000 miles of coastal waters surrounding the Florida Peninsula and the island of Puerto Rico.

In order to be able to fulfill this heavy responsibility, border patrol agents work 24/7 in shifting schedules in different types of terrain and all kinds of weather conditions. They are not only assigned in areas where there are many people such as in big cities, many of them work in isolated communities throughout the country. They make use of surveillance equipment and respond to electronic sensor alarms and aircraft sightings. The sensors are mounted in strategic areas along the border so that anyone entering illegally can be easily spotted. In addition, they also have video monitors and night vision scopes to help them do their jobs well.

If there is a lead on aliens who have gained entry illegally, they follow it up. They maintain traffic checkpoints especially in highways near border areas. They also do checks on transportation and conduct investigations for smuggled goods. They use various kinds of transportation to do their patrols. Of course, cars are the most common. But there are also agents that patrol borders on foot; others ride horses; some use bicycles; still others use all-terrain motorcycles. During the winter in some areas, border patrol agents even use snowmobiles.

Border patrol agents arrested about half a million illegal aliens who have entered the U.S. illegally in 2009. But because of better enforcement methods, more modern technologies, and overall improved infrastructure, these apprehensions have been climbing in the past few years. One of the reasons for this is in the highly successfully implementation of the CBP’s border-control strategy. From Operation Gatekeeper in San Diego, California to Operation Hold the Line in El Paso, Texas, these strategies have been instrumental in securing our borders. Other highly-successful initiatives include Operation Rio Grande in McAllen, Texas; Operation Safeguard in Tucson, Arizona; and the Arizona Border Control Initiative along the Arizona border.

Border patrol agents have also played a very crucial role in preventing the entry of illegal drugs into the country, especially through the Southwest border. More than 10,900 pounds of cocaine and over 2.6 million pounds of marijuana have been seized from narcotic smugglers in 2009.

If this sounds like the kind of job for you then you can learn more about how to become a border patrol agent in the Customs and Border Protection website ( Job openings for entry-level border patrol agents are posted in USAJOBS (

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