The uniformed enforcement agents of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), a branch of the Department of Homeland Security, are responsible for guarding U.S. land/water boundaries, including Hawaii’s 750-mile coastline. These committed officers prevent terrorists, their weapons, undocumented aliens, and smugglers from entering the U.S. An article in the July 4, 2006 Hawaii Reporter stated that Hawaiian CBP agents had confiscated over 1,154,000 pounds of narcotics and apprehended 901,428 undocumented immigrants over the previous nine months.
With 132 islands and a length of 1,523 miles, Hawaii is the world’s largest island chain. The eight main islands are Hawaii (the big island), Oahu, Maui, Lanai, Molokai, Kauai, Nihau and Kahoolawe. All except Kahoolawe are inhabited.
CBP Ports of Entry in Hawaii
A port of entry is a seaport, airfield or land border where CBP officers clear travelers, inspect merchandise, collect duties and enforce immigration/navigation/agricultural laws. Service ports also include cargo processing functions. Hawaii ports of entry are:
- Hilo – the largest settlement on the big island of Hawaii.
- Honolulu – service port at Hawaii’s capital city on Oahu.
- Honolulu International Airport – government statistics for 2010 state that 18,443,873 passengers and 369,360 tons of cargo were processed.
- Kahului – airport on Maui, which is also a deep-draft harbor.
- Kona – international airport on the big island.
- Nawiliwili-Port Allen – Port Allen is the airport on Kauai which also serves the private island of Nawiliwali where pure Hawaiian culture has been preserved.
U.S. Customs Agents in Hawaii
Border Patrol jobs and U.S. Customs careers in Hawaii involve preventing those who do not have the appropriate documentation from entering the U.S. The primary goal of these agents is prevent potential terrorists or other extremists from making their way into the U.S.
Preventing drugs and other contraband from being imported is of critical importance to public safety in Hawaii. The state suffered from a large amount of methamphetamine smuggling in the last decade, with approximately 90% of property crimes being attributed to the use or sale of this drug. It has been estimated that 80-90% of the crystal methamphetamine seized in Hawaii entered the country through the mail or from couriers on commercial flights. Thus, Customs Agents play a key role on the frontlines of the drug war in Hawaii.
Agricultural Specialists in Hawaii
The state of Hawaii is on constant guard against the threat of invasive species. For instance, Hawaii has its own quarantine to prevent foreign species of ants from devastating the local ecosystems. In 2003, responsibility for monitoring agricultural inspections was transferred from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to the CBP.
The CBP established agricultural liaisons in each field office to guide the CBP officers. Efforts to prevent the introduction of potential threats to Hawaii’s agriculture and wildlife have been spearheaded by the Hawaii Pest Risk Committee, which is facilitated by the CBP. In 2010, the CBP referred over 20 different pests or plant material to the Hawaii Department of Agriculture that were thought to be of concern.
The jobs of Agricultural Specialists are considered to be so important to the economy of the U.S. that a comprehensive career track is being created for entry level agricultural specialists. The CBP will be increasing recruitment of agents with this specialty.
Border Patrol Requirements in Hawaii
The CBP has been engaged in an active recruiting process all over the U.S., including Hawaii. Requirements for the job of border patrol agent are:
- Under the age of 40 unless claiming veterans preference
- U.S, citizen with valid U.S. driver’s license
- Bachelor’s degree or relevant work experience
- Fluent in Spanish or able to learn it
- Able to pass entrance test, medical exam, background investigation, drug test and possible polygraph
- No history of serious debt issues, alcohol/drug addiction, or criminal record
- Successfully conclude a personal interview that assesses honesty, judgment and sense of responsibility
- Willingness to work long hours under stressful and often dangerous conditions
- Completion of a strenuous 58-day training camp
- Completion of an additional six-week Spanish language and cultural training if not already proficient in Spanish.
Border Patrol Salaries in Hawaii
According to consumer reports, border patrol agents earn $71,000-$103,000/year with an average annual wage of $89,333. Average annual salaries for agricultural specialists and marine interdiction agents are listed as $88,000-$98,000/year and $98,000-$103,000/year respectively. Average annual salaries in Honolulu are said to be 50,000/year but $60,000/year in Hilo, Lanai, Kona and Kahului.
According to the CBP website, first-year recruits earn $38,619-$49,029 (depending on education and experience) with additional opportunities for overtime pay. The average annual salary for second-year agents is $55,000/year with promotions up to $70,000/year thereafter. Salaries are higher for agents who qualify for supervisory positions.