Behind the Scenes with U.S. CBP

It can often be easy for pedestrians and drivers to complain about the long lines at the Brownsville ports of entry. But, for the guys in blue wearing a U.S. Customs and Border Protection badge, it's not as easy as greeting people and letting them go into the country. Officers have a matter of seconds to determine whether people are entering the country legally, and without intent to do harm. "Since 911, the world changed and so did our agency," Eduardo Perez, CBP public information officer said. "Our new focus has changed to be stopping terrorists and weapons of terrorism." In order to do that, CBP relies on sophisticated technology that helps officers see far beyond what the human eye can see; K-9s and their elevated sense of smell; databases, but most importantly, their interviewing skills. "The officers are looking at the person themselves - how is the person answering a question, what is the person doing as we're asking them a question?" CBP Chief John Deputy said. "Do the answers make sense to the officer? It's something you would expect a law-abiding citizen or traveler to do." CBP officers also help the U.S. Agriculture by prohibiting many plants and food items from coming into the country. Officers said often fruits carry pests that can be detrimental to American farms. "Agriculture is here on the front lines trying to make sure we keep any of these diseases out, that might cost the tax-payers millions of dollars to eradicate," Agriculture Specialist Eutemio Cantu, Jr., said CBP officers said it's never a normal day at the office for them, and that's why weapons and physical training is ongoing. Port Director Michael Freeman said keeping officers on their toes can only mean stronger front lines. "Based upon the threats that we have seen recently, we're trying to mitigate that, by informing the officers of what's going-on, keeping them highly trained, and skilled in their proficiency to identify any threats that may come to the border," Freeman said.