New strategy at border…. can you tell the difference between a CPB Officer and a BP Agent?by Hugh Holub on Apr. 28, 2011, under border patrol, customs and border protection, politics
Recently Customs and Border Protection Officers turned up at the I-19 Checkpoint which is usually staffed by Border Patrol Agents.
For those not familiar with border law enforcement fauna…Customs and Border Protection Officers man the ports of entry and ewar dark blue (look like black) uniforms, whereas the Border Patrol Agents work outside the ports of entry chasing illegal aliens and drug smugglers around the hinterlands and wear green uniforms.
And it is important to note for technical purposes one must correctly refer to CPB “officers” and BP “agents”.
The appearance of the CPB Officers at the I-19 checkpoint north of Tubac set off the expected volley of protests from business interests in Nogales who hgave long been frustrated by the lack of CPB Officers manning the ports of entry, clogging commerce in giant border traffic jams.
From the Nogales International April 19, 2011:
…Since the beginning of March, Customs and Border Protection – under orders from the newly formed Arizona Joint Field Command, an entity designed to increase cooperation between CBP and BP – has been helping to man the checkpoint. That’s becoming a point of contention for local merchants, who say the “boys in blue” are a scarce resource that’s desperately needed at the Nogales ports of entry to keep the lines manageable and facilitate the international commerce that the city survives on.
For its part, Joint Field Command calls it an exemplary program where the two agencies are combining forces on their common mission of securing the border – and insists the CBP officers weren’t pulled from the ports to man the checkpoint. Even so, CBP’s port director in Nogales says he’s worried that with the ports understaffed, and the increased Border Patrol enforcement between the ports, it won’t be long before smugglers recognize the crossings as the weak link. And some local leaders say that instead of stressing economic concerns with Washington decision-makers who are fixated on border security, they need to shift gears and raise the national security alarm if the ports are ever to be properly staffed.
This from a CPB Press Release:
“The Joint Field Command (JFC) integrates the combined assets of the Tucson and Yuma Border Patrol Sectors, the Office of Field Operations Tucson Field Office, and the Office of Air and Marine’s Tucson and Yuma Air Branches, enabling CBP leadership in the Arizona area of operations to direct an integrated approach to our mission of border security, commercial enforcement and trade facilitation.
“U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of U.S. borders at and between official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.”
This is the official announcement of the JFC:
(Monday, February 07, 2011)
— U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) today announced the Arizona Joint Field Command (JFC)—an organizational realignment to integrate CBP’s border security, commercial enforcement, and trade facilitation missions to more effectively meet the unique challenges faced in the Arizona area of operations.
The JFC complements the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) unprecedented investments in border security by expanding coordination and bringing greater unity to enforcement efforts.
“Over the past two years, the Department has deployed historic levels of personnel, resources, and technology to the Southwest border. This approach is working—illegal immigration is declining, deportations are increasing, and crime rates have remained flat or gone down,” said Secretary Janet Napolitano.
“The creation of the Arizona Joint Field Command will complement these unprecedented investments by leveraging all of our assets to secure the border and enforce our nation’s immigration laws while facilitating the flow of legitimate travel and trade.”
CBP Commissioner Alan Bersin has appointed Chief Patrol Agent Jeffrey D. Self as Commander of the JFC. As Commander, Chief Self will oversee all CBP operations throughout Arizona, and will be responsible for the operational lay down for the U.S. Border Patrol’s Tucson and Yuma Sectors, the Office of Field Operation’s Tucson Field Office as well as the Office of Air and Marine’s Yuma and Tucson Air Branches.
“Chief Self has more than 21 years of distinguished service as a U.S. Border Patrol agent,” Commissioner Bersin said.
“Under his leadership, the JFC will allow us to more effectively and efficiently fulfill our mission to secure the nation and continue to facilitate legitimate trade and travel across our borders.”
Since launching the Southwest Border Initiative in March 2009, the Obama administration has engaged in an unprecedented effort to bring focus and intensity to Southwest border security, coupled with a reinvigorated, smart and effective approach to enforcing immigration laws in the interior of our country.
The Border Patrol is better staffed than at any time in its history, having doubled the number of agents from approximately 10,000 in 2004 to more than 20,700 in 2010.
Further, DHS has doubled the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) personnel assigned to Border Enforcement Security Task Forces; increased the number of intelligence analysts working along the U.S.-Mexico border; quintupled deployments of Border Liaison Officers; deployed thousands of technology assets – including mobile surveillance units, thermal imaging systems, and large-and small-scale non-intrusive inspection equipment – at and between the ports of entry; and begun screening of southbound rail and vehicle traffic for the illegal weapons and cash that are helping to fuel the cartel violence in Mexico.
As a result of these investments, in fiscal years 2009 and 2010, CBP seized more than $104 million in southbound illegal currency – an increase of more than $28 million compared to 2007-2008.
In total, CBP and ICE seized more than $282 million in illegal currency, more than 7 million pounds of drugs, and more than 6,800 weapons along the southwest border in FY 2009 and 2010 – increases of more than $73 million, more than 1 million pounds of drugs and more than 1,500 weapons compared to 2007-2008.
Border Patrol apprehensions—a key indicator of illegal immigration—have decreased 36 percent in the last two years and are less than one third of what they were at their peak; violent crime in border communities has remained flat or fallen in the past decade; and statistics have shown that some of the safest communities in America are along the border.
For more information about the Department’s unprecedented efforts to secure the Southwest border, visit the dhs.gov Web site. ( dhs.gov )
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation’s borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.
At a meeting recently between area ranchers and BP officials, the Joint Field Command approach was explained. If the BP need a helicopter from the air branch, there was a complicated up and down the chain of command request process that has now been concentrated more inside the region. Kind of like coordinating Marines and the Navy and the Air Force so everyone is after the same targets and it doesn’t take two weeks for the ground guys to call in air assets.
But others, off-the-record, are questioning how to cross-train and integrate two different law enforcement agencies with two very different roles and missions and training for their jobs into a “one size fits all” effort.
As explained to me, CPB Officers who work the ports of entry and really good at spotting fake documents and secret compartments in vehicles entering the country, as well as detecting furtive behavior as they quiz people entering the country.
BP Agents are really good chasing drug smugglers and illegal aliens around the desert.
The checkpoint is kind of like a second port of entry…another shot at weeding out those hauling weed and trying to get farther into the country illegally…so it makes some kind of sense to put CPB Officers are the checkpoint.
And I’ve noticed that BP Agents can often be found at the port of entry and even staffing the Morley Avenue walk-over port.
One of these years maybe the two outfits will be merged and they will all wear the same color uniforms.