The United States Border Patrol: An Overview
United States Border Patrol is the largest law enforcement arm of the U.S Customs and Border Protection under the Department of Homeland Security. It is responsible for securing the U.S Borders between the ports of entry and was officially established on May 28, 1924, to control illegal immigration and human smuggling. However, since the 9/11 attacks, the focus of the Border Patrol has changed to the detection and deterrence of terrorists and their activities. Although Border Patrol has changed a lot over time, The mission since the time of its inception has been to prevent the illegal entry of individuals and goods into the United States. The United States Border Patrol is responsible for patrolling the Mexican and Canadian Land Borders and also the coastal waters of the Florida Peninsula and Puerto Rico. During the 1980s and 1990s, illegal immigration to the U.S was on the rise.
During this time, the U.S Border Patrol employed infrared night-vision telescopes, seismic sensors, and computing technologies to locate people trying to cross into the U.S illegally. Operation ‘Gatekeeper’ was implemented in 1994, which reduced illegal entries by three-quarters. The Patrol also established anti-smuggling units and search rescue teams soon after. In 1998, the U.S Border Patrol also started The Border Safety Initiative with the cooperation of the Mexican Government. After the 9/11 terrorist attack on the Twin Towers and Pentagon, the Department of Homeland Security was established, of which the U.S Border Patrol became a part.
The staff of the U.S Border Patrol has significantly improved since its inception, and it has a workforce of over 20,000 agents as of now. The safety and security of the borders are accomplished by struct surveillance, electronic sensor alarms, and through aircraft sightings. Electronic sensors, Video monitors, and night vision cameras are placed at strategic locations along the diverse terrains of the Border to detect people or vehicles attempting to enter. The Border Patrol also maintains the traffic at highway checkpoints along the Border areas and carries out anti-smuggling investigations. They also employ boats, aircraft, drones, and submarines for their operations. In some places, they also use horses, motorcycles, bicycles, or snowmobiles for daily patrol.
The U.S Border Patrol is also responsible for fighting Human Trafficking. The Border Patrol works alongside local law enforcement units such as the Department of Justice, Department of Health and Human Services, and other non-profit organizations to successfully integrate victims of human trafficking into normal life. Human trafficking is still prevalent in the modern world, with victims trapped and exploited for slavery, sex, forced labor, and marriage. Women and girls are the biggest victims, with more than 99% trafficked by the sex industry. To identify human trafficking victims, the Border Patrol looks out for signs such as lack of identification documents, restrictions to socializing, deprivation of basic living necessities, signs of physical assault, fearful demeanor, presence of older abusive men, etc.