US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), part of the Department of Homeland Security, is charged with keeping the nation's borders safe. The agency protects the US borders from terrorists and their weapons, human and drug trafficking, illegal immigration, and materials that are harmful to the country's agriculture. CPB guards some 7,000 miles of land borders shared with Mexico and Canada and, in partnership with the US Coast Guard, guards some 95,000 miles of maritime border. (Its Air and Marine division manages the largest law enforcement air force in the world.) CBP is also responsible for assessing and collecting duties, taxes, and fees on imported goods. The agency was established in 2003.
Other responsibilities of the CBP include the prevention of harmful insects and foreign animals that may be diseased from entering US borders. Additionally, it addresses biological and agricultural terrorism threats through surveillance and inspection.
The bureau has partnered with bordering countries in joint initiatives, which include the 30-Point Action Plan with Canada and The Smart Border Accord with Mexico. To surveil commercial trade more effectively, the CBP launched the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism, which is a joint initiative between government and business entities to ensure compliant and legal trade activities.
Given the CBP's daunting task of keeping US borders protected, the bureau relies on high-tech inspection equipment, such as large-scale X-ray and gamma-imaging systems. It deploys unmanned aerial aircraft with on-board sensors for monitoring remote land border areas, and it uses remotely monitored camera and sensing systems to capture illegal crossings. While it utilizes law enforcement canine dogs, nothing takes the place of physical human presence -- to that end, CBP hired 6,000 additional Border Patrol agents in 2009.
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