SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — Pete Flores spent his last day as director for field operations in San Diego shaking hands, doing fist bumps and saying goodbye to border officers and other personnel at the San Ysidro Port of Entry.
Flores has been with U.S. Customs and Border Protection since 1988 and has climbed the ranks within the federal agency during his 33-year career.
Since 2012, he has been in charge of all ports of entry in the region and the customs facility inside San Diego’s cruise ship terminal.
Now he’s on his way to Washington D.C. to become the executive assistant commissioner for CBP’s Office of Field Operations.
“My first thought was can I do this position from San Diego,” said Flores. “I was excited for the offer, not because of the move to Washington, not the position or the title, I was excited for the position because I get to represent all the great employees that we have in this agency to be able to focus on their needs.”
Flores said convincing his wife to move was easier than he thought it would be.
“My wife is used to a couple of moves,” he said. “I thought she took it very well, she has been very supportive from day one and over the years.”
Still, Flores feels a little sadness in moving away from colleagues he’s known for many years in San Diego.
“There’s no way that I’ll be able to personally thank each person here for the work they do every day, but they should know it’s appreciated,” Flores said.
During his tenure in San Diego, Flores played a key role in the design for the renovation of the San Ysidro Port of Entry.
“Seeing the design of this facility, which as we all know is the busiest land port in the western hemisphere, getting it done with things we really needed in order to meet the needs of our officers and the everyday mission they are required to do was a highlight, a significant accomplishment,” he said
While the remodel of the port of entry was a huge project, just shy of $1 billion, Flores is credited with doing a lot of little things that also had a big impact along the border.
He is said to have been instrumental in a plan to bring thousands of people from Mexico north of the border so they could get their COVID-19 vaccinations inside the port of entry on the U.S. side.
“It was important for us to help any way we could, that’s a good example of being engaged with our community to ensure we are doing something good no matter what side of the border they sit on,” Flores said.
The El Centro native grew up in the Imperial Valley east of San Diego.
“This border life is home for me, it’s what I know where I grew up. The significance of what these ports of entry mean to the general public on both sides of the border, that will always hold a special place with me,” said Flores.
Flores and his wife have three grown daughters who won’t be making the move to Washington.