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The main purpose of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which is under the Department of the Homeland Security is to prevent the entrance of terrorists and their weapons into the United States. The borders are patrolled 24 hours, 7 days a week. The U.S. welcomes travelers and trade that are legitimate, and its Border Patrol Agents enforce the U.S. laws that apply to the borders. The CBP is constantly on the lookout for narcotics, smuggled goods, and agricultural pests which are illegal under U.S. law. U.S. Customs and Border Protection are also responsible for recognizing and arresting individuals with criminal warrants that are outstanding. The United States currently has 314 ports of entry which include land, air, and seaports. Last year on an average day officers from CBP allowed 1.2 million individuals to enter the U.S. while turning down more than 3,000 individuals that were considered not admissible. President Bush has increased funding for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which will permit the hiring of 1,000 additional Border Patrol agents to their current force of over 11,000. Since 9/11 about 3,000 Border Patrol agents have been added. The increased funding is due to the passage of the Homeland Security Appropriations Bill, which granted a greater budget to the U.S.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), formerly part of the INS. A greater budget will allow ICE to add an increased number of detention beds, 250 criminal investigators, Immigration Enforcement agents, and fugitive operations teams. Criminal investigators focus their efforts on human smugglers and other criminal groups that may represent a threat to the country’s borders. In addition, the ICE will add 100 deportation officers and 400 Immigration Enforcement Agents.
The main purpose of the U.S. Border Patrol is to prevent and detect the entry of illegal immigrants. An additional 2,000 beds are being added to their deportation facilities bringing the total to 20,000 beds which will likely lead to an expedited deportation process. Border Patrol agents patrol both the Mexico and Canadian borders. The area the agents are responsible for include 6,000 miles of land borders (Mexico and Canada) and 2,000 miles of coastal waters (areas surrounding Puerto Rico and Florida Peninsula). Patrolling of the waters is done by using marine crafts. The fleet of the U.S. Border Patrol includes more than 130 vessels. The patrolling of the border is accomplished by surveillance, leads, electronic sensor alarms, sightings by aircrafts, and discovering tracks left behind. Border Patrol agents take part in highway checkpoints that are set up near U.S. borders in addition to conducting transportation checks and city patrols, and investigating anti-smuggling activities. The checkpoints are not only set up to cut down on the number of illegal immigrants getting further into the U.S. but to detect narcotics as well. The efforts of the U.S. Border Patrol have resulted in nearly 16 million illegal immigrants being apprehended at the border since 1994. Last year alone the Border Patrol agents arrested nearly 1.2 million illegal immigrants who were trying to cross the border. Due to the terrain the Border Patrol agents have to deal with—isolated mountains, canyons and deserts—they have added specialized equipment and integrated methods to better help them monitor illegal immigrants. Some of the technologies the Border Patrol agents are resorting to are electronic sensors, night vision scopes, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). Agents patrol the border by foot, aircraft, vehicles, boats, horses, snowmobiles, bicycles, and all-terrain motorcycles.
The role of the U.S. Border Patrol in regards to drug detection has also grown. With the help of dogs that are specifically trained to detect narcotics among other substances, the Border Patrol agents were able to confiscate more than 1.2 million pounds of marijuana and over 12,000 pounds of cocaine during fiscal year 2005. The street value of the narcotics confiscated last year was estimated at nearly $1.5 billion. While the Border Patrol continues to make progress, they are currently in need of reinforcements. President Bush proposed that 6,000 National Guard troops be sent to the border to support the U.S. Border Patrol for a time period of about two years. This time period should give the U.S. Border Patrol sufficient time to hire an additional 6,000 Border Patrol agents by the end of 2008. Bush has reiterated that National Guard troops will not take on the responsibilities of border enforcement and that the US-Mexico border will not be militarized. 2,500 National Guard troops are expected to be present at the four U.S. states that border Mexico. The number of troops is also expected to increase to 6,000. While emphasis is being placed on the southwest border, this does not mean that the northern border with Canada will be ignored. The patrolling of the Canadian border will remain at the current level with possible reinforcements taking place in the future.