As part of its efforts to streamline U.S. security in the wake of 9/11, the Department of Homeland Security has more than doubled the number of agents employed by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in the period between 2001 and 2011. Many of these jobs include U.S. Customs careers for CBP Officers who are involved in monitoring the flow of traffic into the state of Iowa. Iowa’s official port of entry is in Des Moines, and it is overseen by the CBP’s Chicago Field Office.
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The Role of Customs Agents in Iowa
The jobs of customs agents in Iowa involve a range of activities. Deterring the threat of terrorism is the highest priority of the Department of Homeland Security, and Customs Agents in Iowa are on the front lines as they detain suspicious individuals who enter into Des Moines. Information about threats is shared with Iowa’s Threat Information and Infrastructure Protection Program (TIIPP). Intercepting contraband such as drugs is another high priority for these agents. Drug smuggling is a pervasive problem throughout the US, and smuggling by air is a common method of transport.
Iowa is a state rich in agriculture, and it produces one fifth of the nation’s corn supply. The state is under siege from a number of invasive plant and animal species. Attempting to control and mitigate the damage from invasive species is estimated to cost the U.S. $137 billion a year.
While less high profile than stopping terrorists, monitoring the produce and meat products that people attempt to bring into the state contributes significantly to Iowa’s security. The training of agricultural specialists is a high priority for the CBP. This agency has created room for the advancement of entry level agricultural specialists by creating a comprehensive career track for those specializing in agriculture. The agency also ensures that all CBP personnel are trained by agricultural specialists, so they can help to prevent the introduction of harmful pests and pathogens.
Customs Job Requirements in Iowa
Customs Agents in Iowa balance a variety of roles ranging from intercepting drugs and weapons to facilitating the transfer of lawful goods. These individuals are highly selected and thoroughly trained for their jobs.
Those who wish to join the CPB undergo a physical examination and take an entrance exam. They are quizzed orally. Candidates must also undergo a background check and drug testing. Those who are accepted take part in a rigorous 58 day training course, involving training a variety of legal issues, security training such as firearm usage and driving skills, and immigration policy. If they are not fluent in Spanish, they are immersed in the language for 40 days. Graduates are assigned to their position in Iowa and then undergo a further nine months of training before they become fully established Customs Agents. These federal employees help to keep Iowa safe and security from introduced threats.