In part one of this series, we discussed a brief history of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection , and its role in protecting our America’s borders. In addition, the U.S. Border Patrol Agent was featured, today in this final part of this two part series, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer will be discussed. I interviewed two CBP Officers for this second article.
The CBP Officer’s role is different from that of the U.S. Border Patrol Agent . The CBP Officer enforces laws that secure our borders and fight terrorism. They work in airports and seaports examining cargo and passengers at border stations. On the other hand, U.S. Border Patrol Agents track illegal immigration and smuggling primarily along the Mexican and Canadian borders. Both the Border Patrol Agent and the CBP Officer together help to fight domestic and foreign terrorism.
Economics play an integral role in the security of our borders. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Field Operations, they “help drive our Nation’s economic engine by facilitating lawful international trade and travel through the enforcement of hundreds of U.S. laws and regulations ranging from agriculture to intellectual property rights”.
Natalia Papachoris, Chief CBP Officer, GS-13 wanted to become a CBP Officer because it offered her the opportunity to do something that she knew would be a challenge. She stated, “I also knew it would be very rewarding. I knew I would receive invaluable training, and that this career would allow me the opportunity to positively impact many people’s lives. As an officer, I am able to interact with hundreds of travelers every day, and I work with some of the most amazing people from all parts of the country.”
Officer Papachoris gets satisfaction from knowing that all of the work the agency does has a great impact on the nation. She states, ” Of course, everyone hears about the very exciting enforcement work we do, which is outstanding; but we also do so much more! A big part of our job entails facilitating trade and tourism into the Unites States. It is very rewarding to know that the work we do not only keeps bad things and bad people out of the country, but it also has a positive impact on the US economy every day.”
The most rewarding part of her job is that she sees the clear outcomes of her work. Natalia explains that, “whether apprehending and denying entry to a traveler with nefarious intentions or seizing harmful contraband, I know my efforts make a difference. I enjoy the constantly varied challenges that are put in front of me and the ability to be flexible and adaptable to solve the problems. I am motivated by the encouragement I receive to think outside the box and be creative.”
Officer Papachoris would advise people entering the field that, “this job has unlimited opportunities. Not only do we have officers working in most every part of the country, but we have international positions  as well. The work we do entails so many different jobs; a new officer will have so many possibilities.”
She further states, “We are the first line of defense on our borders! We are responsible for protecting against terrorists, apprehending individuals who attempt to enter the US illegally; for interdicting illegal drugs and other contraband, and we also protect our agricultural and economic interests from harmful pests and diseases. Most importantly, what other job can offer so much? ”
Tommy Sutton, CBP Officer/Program Manager, GS13 applied to CBP out of a fascination with international travel and the desire to be part of one of the greatest missions in protecting our homeland. He stated that, ” whether returning from an international flight or walking across an international border, I would take notice of the CBP officers performing their various functions and be interested in their work. It was clear that they were applying sharp thinking and expert problem solving to quickly make determinations and follow up possible issues with people and things that might not have been lawful. Further, I liked the thought of being part of an agency and tradition that was nearly as old as our country itself. I felt that being part of CBP would be an exciting career.”
Officer Sutton finds his working for CBP rewarding because he can see the clear outcomes of his efforts. He advises those pursuing employment with CBP that, ” you only live once. You owe it yourself to choose an exciting, fun and challenging career. CBP offers limitless opportunities to pursue throughout your career. Whether you chose to stay here at home or venture out to locations throughout the world, you will be met daily with interesting and important work. You will know that you have tangibly and relevantly had a big part in protecting our homeland and the American people.”
The roles of the CBP Officer and the U.S. Border Patrol Agent are our first line of defense in securing our borders and for our fight against terrorism. The goal of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection is to provide the best possible security, this agency will have a lasting impact by protecting our country. According to the a recent announcement, CBP will hire 2,000 additional officers  by the end of fiscal year 2015 to enhance security, help reduce wait times and facilitate growing volumes of legitimate goods and travelers that are critical to the health of our Nation’s economy.
Helpful Career Planning Tools
- The Book of U.S. Government Jobs; Where They Are, What’s Available, and How to Complete a Federal Resume 
- Take Charge of Your Federal Career ; An Action Oriented Career Management Workbook for Federal Employees
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