The Founding and History of AFSCA
In November 1992, Retired U.S. Customs Special Agent Robert (Bob) Guthrie polled as many other retired Customs Special Agents as could be contacted to determine their interest in establishing an association for retired and former Customs Special Agents. The response was overwhelmingly in favor of establishing such an organization. Those polled also voted to offer Associate Membership to all former, retired, or soon to retire non-agent Customs employees.
In 1993, a steering committee was established, and in that same year, permission was received from the U.S. Customs Service to incorporate the U.S. Customs Special Agent badge into the Association’s logo. The original AFCSA logo/seal consists of our name encircling a Treasury blue background with the Special Agent badge we proudly wore in the center. It bears the year in which the U.S. Congress authorized the establishment of independent investigators for Customs.
In January 1994, the Association of Former Customs Special Agents was incorporated in the State of Florida and granted non-profit status by the IRS. George Corcoran, Jr., Marvin Miller, and Robert Guthrie were recorded as the initial incorporators. Later that year an organizational convention was convened in Orlando, Florida. Thirty-four (34) former Special Agents attended that first convention and ratified the Articles of Incorporation and Association By-Laws, thus becoming Founding Members. Donald E. Roberts was elected as the Association’s first President.
Our purpose was to foster comradeship, networking and communications among former Agents and employees, as well as, between former and current Customs Special Agents and employees and to create and maintain a network for finding suitable post-retirement employment for our members.
The Association of Former Customs Special Agents now stands at close to 1,000 members, with an average annual increase in membership of 50 new members. Our membership consists of retired and former U.S. Customs Special Agents, Pilots, Patrol Officers, Inspectors, K9 Officers, Import Specialists, District Directors, Commissioners, Deputy and Assistant Commissioners, Attorneys, Analysts and other vital former support personnel. Together, once members of the Customs Team and each proud of the Customs Service and of their contributions to both Customs and the Country.
The Evolution of AFCSA to ACHSIA
Following the events of 9/11, the U.S. Government underwent a significant reorganization in the spring of 2003. This was the single largest government reorganization since the creation of the Department of Defense. Congress created the Department of Homeland Security, and transferred the Customs Service to the new department. The reorganization abolished the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), and transferred its inspection and patrol functions to the Customs Service. Subsequently, the Customs Service was renamed the Bureau of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The Homeland Security reorganization also established the Bureau of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and transferred Customs Service special agents to the new agency, where they joined special agents and other enforcement personnel that had been transferred from the abolished INS. Thus, CBP and ICE became sister agencies under the new Department of Homeland Security (the bureau designation has since been dropped from both ICE and CBP).
The duties once performed by Customs Special Agents now come under the preview of ICE/Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and Customs and Border Protection with the Department of Homeland Security, enforcing federal laws governing border control, customs, trade and immigration to promote homeland security and public safety. Those Special Agents, Pilots, Patrol Officers, Inspectors, K9 Officers, Import Specialists, District Directors, Commissioners, Deputy and Assistant Commissioners, Attorneys, Analysts, and other vital former support personnel now do what we once did in much the same manner and the camaraderie we once shared amongst ourselves, they now share amongst themselves. They are our legacy as we are theirs.
In March of 2015, the members of the AFCSA overwhelming approved a resolution of the Board of Directors to extend membership to HSI Special Agents. AFCSA continues to offer membership to qualified employees of both the legacy and current agencies. Now, as then, we represent the dedicated men and women who collectively represent our Nation’s First Line of Defense within the Department of Homeland Security.
In April of 2017, the members of the AFCSA in light of the membership’s inclusion of Homeland Security Special Agents in the 2015 election cycle, passed an Association name change to reflect membership’s approval of the same. This resolution passed and we will now be the Association of Former Customs Special Agents, Inc., DBA the Association of Customs and HSI Special Agents. The organization will operate as the Association of Customs and HSI Special Agents, remaining AFCSA for corporate, legal, financial and tax purposes.
The new ACHSIA logo/seal consists of our name encircling the U.S. Customs and the U.S. Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent badges. The displayed represent the year that U.S. Customs was created by the Fifth Act of the First Congress, July 31, 1789, to enforce the Tariff Act which was signed into law on July 4, 1789; the year 1870, in which the U.S. Congress authorized the establishment of independent investigators for Customs; and, 2003, the year Congress created the Department of Homeland Security.
Association’s Mission Statement – circa 1994
ASSOCATION OF FORMER CUSTOMS SPECIAL AGENTS, INC.
* An organization of retired Customs Special Agents, former Agents and their associates.
* The Association was formed for the purposes of continuing comradeship, networking for postretirement occupational placement, providing recognition and support to active Special Agents as well as the enforcement mission of the U.S. Customs Service.
* Retired and former Agents who served as Customs Special Agents for a minimum of two (2) years are eligible for Regular membership. Currently active Agents who have completed two years or more of service are eligible to become Associate members and will automatically be converted to Regular membership upon retiring. Retired or former full time Customs employees who served at least 5 years in other Customs occupations are eligible for Associate membership as are spouses of living members and widow and widowers of deceased regular members.
* Each member will receive a copy of the By-Laws, directory of members and a regularly
published newsletter containing news about Association business and activities, latest information about members, legislation concerning retiree benefits and any significant activities of interest within the Customs Service. Members will be able to better stay in contact with those Customs friends and associates with whom they spent so many hours, days and years. A Transition Committee has been appointed who will make a concerted effort to assist and ease Agents into retirement including occupational placement for those who want to keep working. There will be an annual, national meeting where officers and directors will be elected, Association business will be conducted and social activities for members, spouses and associates will be offered.