U.S. Customs and Border Protection, or CBP, is as federal agency that is responsible for ensuring the safety and security of U.S. international borders. The CBP was implemented in response to 9/11 and combines the functions of previous agencies such as U.S. Border Patrol and INS Customs. Customs and Border protections tend to focus on issues involving national security and terrorist activity, although they also handle a wide range of issues.

What Types of Issues Does the CBP Monitor?

The CBP is responsible for issues that involve the immediate monitoring of U.S. borders. Some of these issues include:

  • Monitoring for persons seeking illegal access into the country
  • Processing travelers at border entry points and enforcing border safety
  • Inspecting items crossing international borders into the U.S., especially agricultural products
  • Inspecting packages for drugs and other contraband
  • Monitoring and identifying suspicious or "high-risk" persons seeking entry into the country
  • Looking for activities related to human trafficking, terrorism, pirating, drug smuggling, and other major crimes that pose threats to national security

Thus, CBP agents generally engage in real-time situations "in the field", as opposed to administrative or investigative functions. In recent years, their activity has also expanded to include the search of electronic items as they pass through borders, including cell phones, laptops, and tablets.

What Are the Consequences of Border Crossing Violations?

Border crossing violations can often lead to serious consequences. For instance, illegal border crossing can be met with immediate removal from the U.S., and may result in the person being banned from re-entry (either temporarily or permanently). In other cases, seizure of contraband can lead to criminal penalties, confiscation of the items, and corresponding criminal charges as necessary. Border patrol issues are often heavily intertwined with many criminal cases.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Customs and Border Protection Issues?

Border violations can lead to serious consequences. In other cases, a border search can infringe on a person’s privacy rights. You may wish to hire an immigration lawyer if you have any issues or legal concerns regarding border protection laws. Your lawyer can explain your rights to you and can inform you of which legal options to pursue. Also, your attorney can represent you if you need to attend a hearing before a CBP panel.