WASHINGTON — Employees and visitors to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) headquarters in Washington, D.C., can now take a brief walk back in time to learn about the agency's history and its evolution to today.
With the snip of a ribbon, ICE Director John Morton officially opened the ICE Gallery March 13. Located in the hallways near the Julie Myers Conference Center, the gallery merges the agency's past with its present accomplishments and contributions in promoting homeland security and public safety.
"I believe it's important to remember where we came from and to reflect often on why we are here. We are an agency with a long and proud tradition of sacrifice and selfless service," said Director Morton.
As employees stroll through the hallways, they will find large panels that detail the history of the U.S. Customs Service and the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), as well as the creation of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and ICE. Additional panels highlight ICE as it is today, including the agency's three directorates — Enforcement Removal Operations, Homeland Security Investigations, and Management and Administration — and a number of ICE programs, including the Offices of the Principal Legal Advisor, International Affairs and Training and Development, the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, and National Security.
The gallery seamlessly incorporates the current Wall of Honor, which remembers U.S. Customs Service, INS and ICE special agents and officers who lost their lives in the line of duty.
Also featured are two display cases and interactive iPad kiosks. The National Firearms and Tactical Training Unit display case showcases different types of weapons, vests and ammunition issued to current ICE employees. The second display case features historic badges, photos, documents, and artifacts that date back as far as 1789. The kiosks allow gallery visitors to view additional photos and videos.
The gallery also pays tribute to ICE's legacy agencies' role in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The exhibit includes photographs, as well as the U.S. Customs uniform worn by a special agent who assisted in recovery efforts at the New York Customs House. A piece of steel from the New York Customs House that was destroyed during the attack is also on display.
ICE — through its legacy agencies — has a robust and distinguished history that dates back to 1789. Nine years ago this month, the criminal investigative resources of the U.S. Customs Service were combined with the criminal investigative and detention and deportation resources of INS to form ICE. This move was a result of the Homeland Security Act of 2002.
The Offices of Public Affairs, Facilities and Chief Information Officer were all instrumental in bringing the gallery to fruition. The ceremony marked the completion of the gallery's first phase. The second phase will involve additional displays in an adjacent room.
"I'd like to thank all those who donated or loaned items, especially the Association of Former Customs Special Agents," said Director Morton. "We couldn't have this gallery without your generosity."