A look inside operations: U.S. Customs and Border Protection hosts academy

YUMA, Ariz.- As an immigrant from Germany Tanja Eiben said she wonders how U.S. Customs and Border Protection enforces the law.  Eiben lived in Germany while the east and west were still divided.  She said as a child she was always scared of Germany’s version of Border Patrol.

“It was just a very tense situation.” said Tanja Eiben.

Ten years ago she immigrated to the United States.  As an immigrant she went through a detailed process.  Eiben said it made her curious to learn more about the process and wanted to learn how the agency determines what is legal and the ethical practices.

Twice a year U.S. Customs and Border Protection hosts its citizens academy.  The agency takes applicants, like Eiben, who are interested in understanding how the largest law enforcement agency on the southern border works.   The German native was selected as one of about 20 who will attend the five week course.  

“Seeing the real thing that you usually only see from far away, now we get to see it for real,” she said.

The agency said they use the academy as a way to inform the public, to answer questions and concerns on how they enforce laws along the borders.

“We are trying to build transparency and build a strong, positive relationship with the community,” said Maria Rodriguez.

Rodriguez is one of several agents who volunteers her time to help with the academy on Wednesday nights.

In the first class participants were introduced to different agents assigned to different agencies under U.S. Customs and Border Protection including Border Patrol, Office of Field Operations, and Air and Marine Operations.

One of the biggest misconceptions is the different roles of Border Patrol agents versus CBP Office of Field Operations agents.  Border Patrol agents are responsible for enforcing the laws outside the ports of entry, whereas, Office of Field Operations officers enforce the law for people passing through the port of entry.  A learning curve for many of the current students.

In the coming weeks participants will be involved in mock training scenarios like inspecting for illegal goods and use of force in the field.


About The Author

Eduardo Santiago joined the FOX 9 and ABC 5 news team in February, 2012. That’s the same year KECY launched its very first local newscast. He has been covering local news in Yuma and the Imperial Valley since his start as a KYMA photojournalist in 2006. During his decade in broadcasting, Eduardo has covered some of the biggest stories in the Desert Southwest – from President Bush’s visit to Yuma, Ariz. to the uncovering of drug tunnels that span the US-Mexico border. One of the most memorable stories Eduardo covered was the 2010 Easter Earthquake that rocked the Imperial Valley, Mexicali, and Yuma. Eduardo, along with his news team, won an award from the Associated Press for best coverage of an ongoing story following the quake. Before he made his move to TV, Eduardo was just a kid born in East Los Angeles, where he spent his early childhood. His parents moved him to Mexicali, B.C. Mexico, where he did most of his elementary school education. He finally landed in El Centro, where he graduated from Central Union High School in 2005. Eduardo is currently a student at Imperial Valley College. You can find Eduardo hanging out in the Imperial Valley and Yuma with his family on any given weekend. His off-screen passion is playing guitar and sports.

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