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Trade Notices

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Vows a Total Commitment to Professionalism

(Thursday, August 26, 2004)

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Robert C. Bonner today announced an initiative to ensure that the agency and its personnel practice the highest of standards in professionalism.

The CBP Professionalism Initiative calls for a total commitment to exemplary conduct in providing services to travelers, as well as the appropriate use of discretion in dealing with technical immigration violations. The initiative will also ensure that CBP is serving the American public with vigilance and integrity, while providing courteous and helpful treatment to visitors, immigrants, and travelers. “U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the guardian of this country’s borders, but it is also the face of our nation and the U.S. government to all who enter our country,” said Commissioner Bonner. “Today, we are implementing standards and policies to ensure the highest degree of professionalism and courtesy at our nation’s ports of entry and we are allowing CBP Officers the discretion necessary to resolve technical infractions rapidly, while carrying out their primary mission of preventing terrorists and terrorist weapons from entering the country.”

A major part of the Homeland Security reorganization, CBP is a merger of all U.S. Customs, Immigration, and Agriculture inspectors at our nation’s 317 ports of entry, along with the entire Border Patrol, which protects our nation’s borders between the ports of entry. CBP was created to protect our nation’s borders from the threat of terrorism, while continuing the important traditional work of the legacy agencies. To transform the separate inspectional workforces into one, CBP established “One Face at the Border,” a unified occupation with the resources, skills and best practices of the separate workforces. CBP adopted a single uniform for its inspectional workforce, conducted anti-terrorism training and cross-training for legacy Customs and Immigration inspectors, and selected a single overtime compensation system. On July 25, 2004, all legacy Customs and Immigration inspectors were converted to a new position: that of “CBP Officer.” These historic changes together with a continuous commitment to professionalism will make CBP the most professional law enforcement organization in the nation.

“I expect professionalism and courtesy to be the hallmark of every CBP Officer. It is my goal that all visitors and traveling U.S. citizens see the CBP uniform as a symbol of our Nation’s great strength, ideals, and liberty,” said Commissioner Bonner.

The principles of professionalism and discretion will be utilized throughout every aspect of the CBP workforce. As part of this initiative, CBP’s “Pledge to Travelers” will be prominently displayed at airports, seaports, and land border ports of entry. It states, “We pledge to cordially greet and welcome you to the United States. We pledge to treat you with courtesy, dignity, and respect. We pledge to explain the CBP process to you. We pledge to have a supervisor listen to your comments. We pledge to accept and respond to your comments in written, verbal, or electronic form. We pledge to provide reasonable assistance due to delay or disability.”

An important part of professionalism is the appropriate exercise of discretion in determining whether to refuse or permit entry of people attempting to enter the United States. Since the overwhelming majority of travelers pose absolutely no threat to our national security, CBP will use discretion to permit entry, whenever the law allows, for individuals that have committed a technical or inadvertent immigration violation, but who otherwise pose no threat whatsoever. Potential terrorists, those that may be engaged in criminal activity, and those who may add to the illegal population of the United States will be refused entry.

The CBP Professionalism Initiative encompasses training, employee musters, guidance on exercising discretion, the “Pledge to Travelers” campaign, the overhaul of the complaint and compliment processing unit, and the development of metrics to measure agency progress.

“We have a unique opportunity to capitalize on this historic reorganization, and in doing so, develop the culture of professionalism for years to come. We are raising the bar. We are a world class law enforcement organization and even a single instance of rude or discourteous behavior is one too many,” Commissioner Bonner added. “At U.S. Customs and Border Protection, as ‘One Face at the Border,’ we are building a tradition of excellence.”

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