CBP returns to TV for season 2 of 'Border Wars'

Thursday - 9/2/2010, 10:41am EDT

Bill Anthony, director of special projects, CBP

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By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio.com

Season two of "Border Wars" debuted last night on the National Geographic Channel. The show goes behind the scenes with Customs and Border Protection agents in cities along the southern U.S. border.

Bill Anthony, director of special projects for CBP, told Federal News Radio the decision to produce the show nearly made itself.

President Obama said that one of the things he wanted to accomplish was make government more open to the people. So people could see what people do, how they do it, why they do it so they can make informed decisions. We determined that this was the best way of following the President's orders: by allowing somebody to come down, be the fly on the wall, and see what we do day in and day out and not talk to talking heads and executives but to talk to the people, the men and women who are actually out there doing the job.

Now that the first season has wrapped and the second is airing, Anthony said there's more public interest in both what the CBP does and in recruitment, but he's seeing even bigger results.

"The main benefit here," said Anthony, "is that people talk about the southwest border and have no idea of what's going on down there. Now this show is not going to change anyone's mind, but it's going to make them much more informed when they're discussing this vital political issue."

Internally, said Anthony, "it increases the morale of our employees because they're out there talking directly to the camera. They don't have a script. They're saying what they want to say." By doing that, said Anthony, it also "proves to the employees that we think they're capable enough to make the case for our agency and we let them loose to do it."

Anthony said he recently received an e-mail from a field agent who said he appreciated the chance to show his spouse exactly what he faces at work. "It really demonstrates the heroism of the men and women of this agency."

A reality television series may not seem viable for every agency, admitted Anthony. "Look, there are people in government that would like paper bags put over their agency, so they're not bothered by anything but we're not that way. We have leadership that hasn't been that way and everybody should open up what they do so that people can see it and get an idea of the day in, day out activities that are interesting to a viewing audience."

You can see the results for yourself if CBP's efforts are paying off. "Border Wars" airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on the National Geographic Channel. And you can view the entire new episode in the player below.