What Does a Border Patrol Agent Do?

Although most are aware that the U.S. Border Patrol was created to prevent terrorists and illegal aliens from entering into the country, many question what does a border patrol agent do on a daily basis. Undaunted by freezing cold northern winters or scorching hot desert summers, border patrol agents are fearless law enforcement officers that vigilantly protect all of our nation’s borders from potential attack. In fact, the Border Patrol is responsible for maintaining nearly 6,000 miles of international land borders with Mexico and Canada as well as 2,000 miles of coastal waters around Florida and Puerto Rico, according to the US Customs and Border Protection. If you are interested in joining the dynamic workforce of over 21,000 agents, read on to learn more about what border patrol agents do.

About Border Patrol Operations

On America’s frontline, border patrol agents conduct operations that protect our nation’s security by reducing the likelihood that terrorists, traffickers, illegal aliens, and other potentially dangerous people enter between legal ports of entry into the United States. Since the border is not very discernible on the diverse terrain of mountains, deserts, or even oceans, the Border Patrol makes use of high-tech equipment with electronic sensors to detect when people and/or vehicles are crossing the border illegally. On operations, agents may patrol the border in boats, on foot, in vehicles, atop horses, on all-terrain motorcycles, or even on foot. Some of the most prominent Border Patrol operations include implementing traffic checkpoints, conducting transportation checks, responding to sensor alarms, following tracks, and maintaining surveillance against smuggling.

Daily Duties of Border Patrol Agents

In most cases, border patrol agents spend much of their time signcutting, which is the process of detecting and interpreting any disturbances in the natural terrain that could be caused by the passage of people and/or vehicles across the border. Border patrol agents also conduct major traffic and transportation checks on highways that lead away from the border. When agents detect illegal aliens or drugs attempting to make their way into the United States, they have the responsibility of apprehending them to prevent harm. According to the Border Patrol, agents made over 364,000 arrests last year to maintain the safety of our southwestern border alone. With over 109 vessels throughout the agency, border patrol agents may also conduct patrolling activities from the decks of watercrafts along our coastal waterways too.

Qualifications for Joining the Border Patrol

Due to the heightened threat of terrorist attacks and the increasing presence of drug traffickers, the Border Patrol has very strict qualifications that must be met before becoming an agent. At the basic level, border patrol agents must be U.S. citizens, have a valid driver’s license, pass a urine drug test, submit a resume of relevant job experience, and complete the CBP Border Patrol entrance examination with flying colors. Since the job is physically demanding, agents must be younger than 37 years old at the time of application. If you do not have law enforcement work experience, a four-year college degree in criminal justice or a related field can be used as a substitute.

Related Resource: Become a US Marshal

Overall, the U.S. Border Patrol is the largest federal law enforcement agency within the Department of Homeland Security. With its mission to maintain a line of defense that allows legitimate travel into our economy, border patrol agents protect our national security by stemming the flow of illegal aliens, drugs, contraband, and terrorists across the border. Now that you know what does a border patrol agent do, you can decide if this dynamic law enforcement career is the right match for your interests.