Defending the Borders: US Border Security Overview

Discussed in this essay is an outline of US borders and security related to them. The geographic and strategic value of the borders has been described in the beginning. Then the origin and purpose of United States Border Patrol has been discussed. Mentioned in the middle body are the steps or actions that USBP had taken so far in for safeguarding the borders along with the trouble they have endured in curbing issues such as illegal immigration, drug and human trafficking and screen immigrants for the signs of terrorism.

Also discussed in length are human and drug trafficking that takes place across US border and how these things make their way into United States. The United States policy regarding border security is briefly discussed and the essay is closed with an analytical conclusion. US Border Security Since the beginning of civilization, borders have perhaps been the most valued asset nations consider themselves to have. Wars have been waged for the sake of their protection or expansion but they have been regarded sacredly none the less.

Get quality help now
Bella Hamilton
Bella Hamilton
checked Verified writer

Proficient in: Drug Trafficking

star star star star 5 (234)

“ Very organized ,I enjoyed and Loved every bit of our professional interaction ”

avatar avatar avatar
+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

As humanity progressed into the latter centuries, the concepts and its rigidity regarding the borders of a state kept on changing as the ancient world had open and unmanned borders. United States of America, since its creation has been guarding her borders with absolute zeal and dedication. Acquiring the half of the north American continent, United States is flanked by ocean on both its east and west side, whilst it shares its borders with Canada in the north and from Mexico in the south.

Get to Know The Price Estimate For Your Paper
Number of pages
Email Invalid email

By clicking “Check Writers’ Offers”, you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We’ll occasionally send you promo and account related email

"You must agree to out terms of services and privacy policy"
Write my paper

You won’t be charged yet!

Being one of the richest, most advanced and highly organized countries of the world, United States borders have been the object of fascination for its neighboring countries, specially Mexico being a third world country living right at the door step of US. Adhering to a strict and stern immigration and interior policy, people from all across the globe find it difficult to get entrance into the US without severe securitization.

Offering the glorious prospects of freedom, financial security, safeguarding of rights and its ability to assimilate the diverse cultures of the world into its own, almost every person in the world has been enchanted by the prospect of living a life in the US, the Land of the Free. That is the reason its 8,000 miles long border have been violated enough times, specially from the south as immigrants from all across South American wishes to live a life of peace in the US. Along with the sea of illegal immigrants, US borders also face smugglers of both drugs and contraband items because of being one of the most lucrative markets in the world.

Coupled with these troubles, US borders have been guarded highly as means of not permitting terrorist from making their way into US. The taste of 9/11 is something that US hasn’t quite forgotten yet. Thus, the border security of United States is not only one of the highest efficient and vigilant in the world, it is also one of the most sensitive one due to its immense size. Its importance can be summed up in the words of Ronald Regan as he said: "The simple truth is that we've lost control of our own borders, and no Nation can do that and survive. We ignore America's lost sovereignty at our own peril” (cited in www.

usborderwatch. com) Overview The land border of US along with Canada spans 5,525 miles and is the longest non-militarized border in the world. There are 84 land POEs (Point Of Entry) along the northern border, which include but are not limited to three in Idaho,13 in Maine, three in Michigan, five in Minnesota, 10 in Montana, 12 in New York, 18 in North Dakota, seven in Vermont, and 12 in Washington. Around 250,000 people enter the United States from Canada. Canada is the single largest trading partner of the United States, with the total trade exceeding almost $372 billion in 2003.

In fact, the largest trade link in the world is the Ambassador Bridge (connecting Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario) that has more than 7,000 trucks crossing daily transporting goods worth more than $120 billion per year. The southern land border with Mexico is 1,933 miles across and has 25 land POEs, six of which are in California, six in Arizona, two in New Mexico, and 11 in Texas. Over 800,000 people arrive from Mexico daily. Mexico is United States second largest trading partner, with the trade of $220. 3 billion in 2003, down from $247. 2 billion in 2000.

The coast line of the United States is 12,479 miles long and there are 143 sea POEs. Some sea and river POEs are principally commercial ports while others receive passengers (Border Security: Inspections Practices, Policies, and Issues, 2004). In order to be able to cope with such a vast border from which not trade merchandise has been able to pass but also torrent of immigrants, either legal or illegal along with the high possibility of drugs, liquor, contraband items and smuggled good, US Border Patrol was founded in 1924 which after 85 five years is among one of the finest law enforcement organizations in the world.

United States Border Patrol (USBP) Founded in 1924, the U. S. Border Patrol was established in El Paso, Texas, and Detroit, Michigan. Its primary purpose was to curb the illegal entry of aliens, contraband, and the flow of forbidden liquor from Mexico and Canada into the United States. Under the authority of the Immigration Act, approved by Congress on May 28, 1924, the Border Patrol was created as a uniformed law enforcement branch of the Immigration Bureau (“85 Years Of Protected By”, 2009).

Back in those days, smuggling of liquor from Canada and Mexico was an immensely lucrative business and invited illegal immigrants to have a go at their lucks in United States. Today, the USBP’s primary mission is to detect and prevent the entry of terrorists, weapons of mass destruction, and illegal aliens into the country, and to interdict drug smugglers and other criminals along the border. The Homeland Security Act of 2002 dissolved the Immigration and Naturalization Service and placed the USBP within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) (Border security, the role of US border patrol, 2008).

In the wake of 9/11, USBP’s funding and man power has been increased exponentially by the consent of Congress. Now having almost 18,000 agents in 20 sectors, and 164 stations all across the United States, its objectives and strategies also include the prevention of terrorists from entering the United States soil along with the detection and neutralization of weapons of mass destruction. Perhaps the toughest task USBP has to do is to curb the flow of illegal immigrants the swarms the borders of United States, especially the southern border.

Due to the fact that over 97% of unauthorized migrant apprehensions occur along the southwest border, the USBP deploys over 90% of its agents there to deter illegal immigration. In 1993, a study commissioned by the Office of National Drug Control Policy pointed out to the fact that the southwest border was becoming the den of illegal immigrants noting as an example that 6,000 illegal immigrants attempted to enter the United States every night along a 7.

5 mile stretch of the San Diego border. The study also concluded that drug smuggling was a serious threat all along the southwest border, and recommended that the entries of the illegal immigrants should e prevented at the border rather than arresting them after entrance. This consequently led to USBP’s implementation of its first National Strategic Plan (NSP) in 1994. National Strategic Plan

An endeavor to gain control over the overrun borders, NSP started out as a multiphase programs so as to maximize the USBP’s resources and their implementation on the areas of greatest entry of illegal immigrants and goods. The focus of the NSP was an operational strategy known as “Prevention Through Deterrence. ” The strategy’s goal was to place USBP agents and resources directly on the border in order to prevent the entry of illegal aliens, rather than attempting to arrest aliens after they have already entered the country.

Strategy’s phase I was called program “Hold the Line” at El Paso sector, which focused on the deployment of the agents deep into the borders in order to detect any alleged or attempted entries of border crossing rather than apprehending the culprits in the city streets and wasting precious time as it was relatively easy to catch border crossers in the wide open desert. The program wasn’t a complete success as it merely shifted the border crossing point from El Paso to somewhere else. San Diego’s Operation Gatekeeper followed after the El Paso program and many agents were deployed along the San Diego border.

Aiding them was the state of the art ground sensors, infra-red cameras and stadium lights along with landing mats used as a border fence. Phase II of the program included the expansion of Operation Safeguard (1999) in Tucson, Arizona, operation Rio Grande (1997) in the McAllen and Laredo sectors of Texas, and an increased emphasis on securing the northern border. Phase III was set to involve the remaining areas of the southwest border as well as the coastal waters around Florida and Puerto Rico (Border security, the role of US border patrol, 2008).

After the fateful events of 9/11, the USBP has modified its directives and prioritizing the prevention of terrorist penetration through the borders. As the investigations relating to 9/11 revealed that the terrorists had roamed freely across US with the status of illegal immigrant and prepared for the attacks from with in the US soil, USBP in collaboration with Immigration and Custom’s Enforcements, Anti Smuggling Units and CBP’s intelligence has directed all its attention towards the alien penetration across the US border.

USBP revealed their new strategy to cope with the terror threats from entering US via illegal border crossing in March 2005. The five major points of that strategy are as follows. - Establishing the substantial probability of apprehending terrorists and their weapons as they attempt to enter illegally between the ports of entry; - Deterring illegal entries through improved enforcement; - Detecting, apprehending, and deterring smugglers of humans, drugs, and other contraband;

- Leveraging “Smart Border” technology to multiply the deterrent and enforcement effect of Agents; - Reducing crime in border communities, thereby improving the quality of life and economic vitality of those areas (Border security, the role of US border patrol, 2008). Striving hard to get the task done, the Homeland Security Department last year awarded one of the most ambitious technology contracts in the war on terror, a 10-year deal estimated at up to $10 billion to the global consulting firm Accenture.

In return, the company would provide services to create a “virtual border" that would electronically screen millions of foreign travelers. Termed as US-VISIT program, which stands for the United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology, started in July 2003. The US-VISIT system must eventually cover nearly 7,000 miles of borders along Mexico and Canada, including more than 300 land, air and sea ports that witness 450 million crossings a year (Higam & O'Harrow Jr. , 2005, p. A01). Human and Drug Trafficking across US borders

Aside from the newly instilled fear of terrorism, United States faces the troublesome elements of smuggling of drugs and human trafficking and most of these gruesome things wade their way into America by means of illegal border crossing. Addressing the human trafficking element first, “The U. S. State Department’s 2005 Report on Human Trafficking estimates that between 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year and almost 20,000 are trafficked across U. S. borders alone” (“Combat Trafficking in Persons”, 2005).

The horrible side of this gruesome business is that most of the trafficked persons are children. Extremely lucrative and seemingly unobtrusive, “human trafficking is considered to be the third-largest source of criminal income worldwide, generating an estimated $9. 5 billion per year. It is also closely linked with money laundering, document forgery, drug trafficking and international terrorism. ” (Keefer, 2006, p. 5). According to John P. Torres, deputy assistant director for smuggling and public safety at the United

States Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) cross border human trafficking is a “significant risk to national security and public safety” (Seper, 2004). Drug trafficking is the problem that has plagued US since its very beginning. The very purpose of the establishment of USBP was to prohibit smuggled drugs from entering American territory but even after 85 years, the problem has not been fully curbed yet. It is the most lucrative organized crime operation in United States with its annual income estimated to be “as high as $110 billion” (“America’s Habit”, 1986).

Cocaine being the most sought after drug, as its roots of origin are literally buried in South American countries, other popular drugs such as marijuana and heroin make its way into United States by means of either maritime vessels or through southern border. The numerous drug cartels active in United States gets their drugs en route Mexico regardless of the joint ventures both countries engaged in so as to hamper the drug trafficking. Mexico itself cultivates heroin and due to its lightly guarded 2,000 miles border with United States is the chief trafficker of heroin in USA.

Drugs also are brought in underground through tunnels; some 100 have been discovered since 1990 along the 1,950-mile U. S. -Mexico border. The most sophisticated tunnels have lights, air systems and hydraulics (Feyerick et al, 2009). Regardless of extra tight security since 9/11 drug somehow is making its way into United States and hasn’t completely been stopped yet. Aside from human and drug trafficking, the USBP also has to look out for items of contraband nature such as weapons and pirated merchandise.

With such a huge number of people passing through both north and south borders of United States, hunting down illegal immigrants, terrorists, drugs and pirated merchandise has become a daunting task for USBP. United States Border Security Policy Aware of its much sought after status, United States border security has always been very clear and its primary motive is to make sure the safety and its borders from the swarms of illegal immigrants and smuggled goods. The primary emphasis of the policy is about the status of immigrants who crosses both the borders of north and south to gain access into United States.

Being in excellent terms with the government of Canada, the northern border of United States is subjected to less scrutinizing as compared to the southern one that’s in contact with Mexico. The residents of Mexico are issued a special Mexican Laser Visa that grants them access into US for as long as 6 months. Southern border, being constantly breached by illegal immigrants and smugglers is a highly watched territory where thousands of people pass every day thus making it extremely difficult for CBP and USBP to keep an eye out for anomalies. Keeping that in mind, granting Visa is not the only procedure to gain access into United States.

Interviews are conducted, data is cross referenced and surveillance is mounted so that only the right person could be able to go through the gates of US. In the post 9/11 times, the security checks has been doubled and it has become the “primary mission of CBP is to prevent terrorists and terrorist weapons from entering the country. However, other components of CBP’s mission include interdicting other prohibited items such as illegal drugs, ammunition, firearms, and counterfeit goods; and monitoring trade compliance” (Border Security: Inspections Practices, Policies, and Issues, 2004). Conclusion

The border patrol strategy was aimed at strengthening of United States immigration laws and strove for decreasing the number of illegal immigrants coming into the United States by increasing controls at the its borders. Previously the resources were primarily directed at strengthening the border patrol along the southwest border, to curb the entrance of illegal immigrants and smuggled goods but the terrorist attacks, however, brought attention to the northern border, which has been understaffed and lacked the necessary technology to adequately screen individuals seeking entry into the United States.

Several pieces of legislation passed in the 107th Congress authorized and appropriated funding for additional staffing and resources along the northern border. Regardless of its outstanding services and capabilities, USBP has not been able to completely tackle the problem of illegal immigrants and smuggled merchandise. Many reasons, such the sheer size of the borders, the number of immigrants passing through it every and the dogged determinacy of people willing to enter the Land of the Free etc may contribute to its incomplete success.

But that still doesn’t change the fact that US borders are much more safe and vigilant in the presence of United Stated Border Patrol.


“85 years of protected by” retrieved May 24, 2009 from http://www. cbp. gov/xp/cgov/border_security/border_patrol/85th_anniversary. xml/.

“America's Habit”, Drug Abuse, Drug Trafficking, & Organized Crime President's Commission on Organized Crime, 1986, retrieved May 24, 2009 from http://www. druglibrary. org/SCHAFFER/GOVPUBS/amhab/amhabc3. htm/

“Border Security: Inspections Practices, Policies, and Issues”. CRS Report for Congress, 2004.

Order Code RL32399, Congressional Research Service, The Library of Congress.

“Border Security: The Role of the U. S. Border Patrol”. CRS Report for Congress, 2008. Order Code RL32562, Congressional Research Service,

The Library of Congress. Feyerick, Deborah; Cary, Michael & Steffen, Sheila. “Drug smugglers becoming more creative, U. S. agents say” April 16, 2009, retrieved May 24, 2009 from http://edition. cnn. com/2009/CRIME/04/16/creative. drug. smugglers/index. html/. Keefer, Sandra L. ,

“Human Trafficking And The Impact On National Security For The United States” March 2006, U. S.

Army War College Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania 17013, p. 5-8. O'Harrow Jr. Robert & Higham, Scott. “US Border Security At Cross Roads” Washington Post, Monday, May 23, 2005, p. A01. Regan, Ronald. Quotation.

Retrieved May 24, 2009 from http://usborderwatch. com/. Seper, Jerry. “Human Smuggling a Security Risk. ” Washington Times. 19 May 2004, retrieved May 24 2009 from http://www. washingtontimes. com/functions/print. php? StoryID=20040518-103934-8980/.

Trafficking in Persons Report, U. S. Department of State, 2005, retrieved May 24, 2009, http://state. gov/g/tip/tiprpt/2005/46606. htm/.

Updated: Nov 30, 2023
Cite this page

Defending the Borders: US Border Security Overview. (2016, Aug 04). Retrieved from

Defending the Borders: US Border Security Overview essay
Live chat  with support 24/7

👋 Hi! I’m your smart assistant Amy!

Don’t know where to start? Type your requirements and I’ll connect you to an academic expert within 3 minutes.

get help with your assignment