Just the Facts

Five Facts on the History of Border Control

By No Labels
July 11, 2019 | Blog

Border patrol and the southern border have been an important topic of discussion in the recent news. These are the facts.

Prior to the 1924 creation of the official U.S. Border Patrol, enforcement efforts were intermittent and uncoordinated[1]

Starting in 1904, the U.S. Immigration Service sent watchmen to patrol the border whenever resources permitted. The numbers of watchmen were small, rarely exceeding 75. In 1915, Congress authorized mounted inspectors largely to enforce the Chinese exclusion laws, and to do intermittent border patrol. The Immigration Acts of 1921 and 1924 created limits on legal immigration, driving up illegal entry attempts and increasing the need for a coordinated border patrol.

U.S. Border Patrol was officially established by the Labor Appropriation Act of 1924[2]

The Labor Appropriation Act established the Border Patrol to secure areas of the border between official inspection stations, but it wasn’t until 1925 that its duties included the seacoast. In 1932, the Border Patrol established two directors –one to control the border with Mexico, the other to control the border with Canada. In the era of Prohibition, the Border Patrol was used to catch liquor smugglers alongside smugglers of undocumented immigrants. 



1952 Immigration legislation codified and carried forward the role of the Border Patrol, and made illegal entry into the U.S. a criminal offense[3]

The 1952 Immigration and Nationality Act allowed U.S. Border Patrol agents to patrol all territory within 25 miles of a land border[4]. It also allowed agents to board vehicles anywhere in the United States to search for immigrants thatwhocame into the U.S. illegally. Border Patrol also began repatriation efforts of immigrants who entered illegally back into Mexico. 

The U.S. Border Patrol became a part of U.S. Customs and Border Protection after the 2003 establishment of the Department of Homeland Security[5]

After the 9/11 terror attacks, border security was a renewed topic of concern within the government. In 2003, the Department of Homeland Security was established. The U.S. Border Patrol became a part of U.S. Customs and Border Protection under the Department of Homeland Security. Customs and Border Protection continues to work within the U.S. and with neighboring countries to ensure a safe and secure border. 

Prior to 2017, 654 miles of physical barrier existed along the 2,000 mile border. President Trump has planned to build 336 miles of new and replacement wall, but has been unable to secure funding from Congress[6].

President Trump campaigned on a promise to build a border wall along the US(U.S.)-Mexico border to stop the ‘crisis’of migrants illegally entering the U.S. Prior to his election, over 654 miles of (delete border) southern border wall existed, and a significant portion of the border was covered by natural barriers such as mountains. The president wants to build an additional 336 miles of border wall, but Congress is reluctant to fund the $5.7 billion requested for construction. When Congress agreed to fund only $1.4 billion for the wall, President Trump declared a national emergency to reprogram $6.7 billion for the wall. But courts have recently blocked the reprogramming of military funds under the national emergency, leaving the fate of the president’s wall in limbo[7]


[1]https://www.cbp.gov/border-security/along-us-borders/history

[2]Ibid.

[3]Ibid.

[4]https://www.cbp.gov/about/history/1924-border-patrol-established

[5]https://www.cbp.gov/border-security/along-us-borders/history

[6]https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-46824649

[7]https://thehill.com/latino/451447-democrats-on-high-alert-to-block-any-funding-for-trumps-border-wall

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