by: RONALD D. VITIELLO
U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s law enforcement personnel have taken an oath to safeguard the American people and our borders — keeping dangerous people, drugs and goods from entering the country while enabling legitimate travel and trade.
Securing more than 6,000 miles of land border shared with Mexico and Canada, and 2,000 miles of coastal waters is a difficult and often dangerous task — carried out by 19,437 Border Patrol and 947 Air and Marine agents. Before each shift, agents put on their uniforms not knowing what threats they will face or the hazards they must encounter.
CBP has made progress toward border security. Yet the flow of dangerous drugs, illegal migration from countries other than Mexico, and the sustained threat posed by terrorists dedicated to our destruction have substantially increased the complexity of our mission.
There are numerous gaps of vulnerability along our borders — a fact Border Patrol chiefs in the field recently reported to the Trump administration and Congress.
The construction of a border wall, along with responsible investments in surveillance technology and additional agents, will close these gaps. Closing legal loopholes that currently enable illegal migration will also strengthen border enforcement efforts.
As the acting deputy commissioner, there is no more important task for me than to maintain the highest standards of our law enforcement agency, which are based on our core values of vigilance, service to country, and integrity.
We are committed to earning the public trust and have increased transparency by publishing our use of force policy, data on employee discipline, use of force statistics, and results from CBP’s use of force review board.
We are also committed to public accountability. CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility has increased authorities to investigate allegations of employee misconduct. CBP’s website enables the public to easily file a complaint or provide feedback https://help.cbp.gov/app/home. The agency uses the feedback to improve performance across the enterprise. And CBP’s Information Center increased its Spanish-language capacity to provide improved service, accountability and transparency to those who speak Spanish via the fully-integrated Spanish-language service at https://helpspanish.cbp.gov/.
We have the highest standards of any federal law enforcement agency and we will maintain those standards as we recruit, hire, train and retain men and women who will faithfully enforce our nation’s laws and protect the American people.
Vitiello is acting deputy commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Website: www.cbp.gov