LEGAL FRAMEWORK FOR INSPECTIONS AT U.S. PORTS OF ENTRY

The Homeland Security Act of 2002 (HSA, P.L. 107-296) establishes DHS and its directorates. More than 22 federal agencies were consolidated into the new department, including the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), the Customs Service, and components of APHIS that conduct inspection and animal quarantine activities at U.S. ports (APHIS, 2003). The HSA specified which laws DHS agricultural inspectors might use to conduct inspections but it did not alter these underlying statutes (CRS, 2004). In addition, the transfer of the inspection functions of INS and Customs Service to DHS did not affect the laws that authorize these inspections. The following sections describe the underlying statutes for various types of inspections at U.S. ports.

Agriculture Inspections

Agriculture inspectors play an integral part in USDA’s role in supplying a safe and affordable food supply. In part, APHIS was responsible for enforcing the laws that protect and promote U.S. agricultural health from agricultural pests and diseases by conducting inspections at various ports of entry. Under the HSA, APHIS import and entry inspection activities relating to the laws specified below were transferred to DHS. The under secretary for border and transportation security is now responsible for conducting agricultural inspections at ports of entry in accordance with the regulations, policies, and procedures issued by the secretary of agriculture for the following Acts (CRS, 2004):

  • The Virus-Serum-Toxin Act (21 U.S.C. §§151 et seq.).

  • The Honeybee Act (7 U.S.C. §§281 et seq.).

  • Title III of the Federal Seed Act (7 U.S.C. §§1581 et seq.).

  • The Plant Protection Act (7 U.S.C. §§7701 et seq.).

  • The Animal Health Protection Act (7 U.S.C. §§8301 et seq.).

  • The Lacey Act Amendments of 1981 (16 U.S.C. §§3371 et seq.).

  • Section 11 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. §§1540).

In some cases, agriculture inspectors have the authority to conduct warrantless searches of any person or conveyance entering the country in furtherance of those laws. For instance, under the Plant Protection Act and the Animal Health Protection Act, agriculture inspectors have the authority to conduct warrantless searches of any person or vehicle entering the United States to determine whether the person is carrying any plant or animal in



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement