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ICE: 14 Years

A Look Back

While ICE was formed 10 years ago, our history goes back much further than that. Explore our history in this interactive timeline. We'll be adding more entries throughout our 10-year celebration and beyond.

2001

September 11 - 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States

Terrorists took advantage of security weaknesses in our aviation system to kill nearly 3,000 innocent men, women and children, including citizens of more than 90 countries. It was the worst terrorist attack on American soil.

November - Homeland Security Act of 2002 was signed

The Homeland Security Act of 2002 is introduced in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks and subsequent mailings of anthrax spores. The act is co-sponsored by 118 members of Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush Nov. 2002. The Homeland Security Act creates the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the new cabinet-level position of secretary of homeland security.

ICE's First Decade

U.S. Department of Homeland Security officially begins operationsU.S. Department of Homeland Security officially begins operations

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's mission is to prevent terrorism and enhance security; secure and manage U.S. borders; enforce and administer U.S. immigration laws; safeguard and secure cyberspace; and ensure resilience to disasters. March 1, 2003, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is created through the integration of all or part of 22 different federal agencies and programs into a unified, integrated department. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security absorbed the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the U.S. Customs Service and assumed their duties. In doing so, it divided the enforcement and services functions of the two legacy agencies and created three new agencies: Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services and Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Michael J. Garcia nominated as the assistant secretary for ICEMichael J. Garcia nominated as the assistant secretary for Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement

In March 2003 President Bush appoints Michael J. Garcia as the assistant secretary of homeland security for the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and he is unanimously confirmed by the Senate, Nov. 2003. Garcia served as Acting Commissioner of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service from Dec. 2002 to Feb. 2003 before it was integrated into the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. From Aug. 2001 to Nov. 2002, he was the top federal enforcer of dual-use export control laws as the assistant secretary of commerce for export enforcement.

Julie L. Myers is appointed assistant secretary for Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement

In Jan. 2006 President George Bush appointed Julie L. Myers as assistant secretary of homeland security for the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Prior to her appointment, Myers served as special assistant to the president for presidential personnel. Before that, she served as assistant secretary for export enforcement at the Department of Commerce. In that role, Myers supervised a nationwide law enforcement agency that specialized in export control violation, both civil and criminal.

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ICE removes Majid Al-Massari

ICE removed Majid Al-Massari, 35, a native and citizen of Saudi Arabia belonging to an undesignated terrorist organization. Al-Massari was ordered removed June 30, 2005, and was removed Jan. 29, 2007. At the time of his arrest, Al-Massari was a Seattle area computer security specialist that used his cyber skills to engage in terrorist activities. He purposely used his computer and communications skills to advance the terrorist goals of the Committee for Defense of Legitimate Rights and incite hatred against other groups of people. Al-Massari moderated an Internet chatroom for members of the group and posted Al Qaeda's weekly magazine at his site.

Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement renamed U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement renamed U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security changes the name of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Detention and Removal Operations assumes programmatic responsibility of the Criminal Alien Program from the Office of Investigations

Detention and Removal Operations assumes responsibility for the Alien Criminal Apprehension Program June 1. ICE aims to arrest and remove criminal aliens by securing a final order of removal before they are released from prison or jail. Identifying and processing incarcerated criminal aliens, prior to release from jails and prisons, decreases or eliminates the time spent in ICE custody, which reduces the overall cost to the federal government.

ICE implements the electronic travel document system, significantly reducing the amount of time required for partner countries to issue a travel document

Sept. 1, 2007 ICE launches their electronic document system, a system used to review travel document requests and issue travel documents electronically.

The National Fugitive Operations Program, with significant assistance from the Fugitive Operations Support Center, reduces the nation's fugitive alien population for the first time

As of Oct. 1, 2007, ICE's fugitive case backlog consisted of less than 595,000 fugitive aliens, which was approximately 38,000 fewer fugitives than the population recorded Oct. 1, 2006.NFOP, with significant assistance from the FOSC, reduces the nation's fugitive alien population for the first time

ICE established the first Fugitive Operations Teams in 2003 to expand the agency's efforts to locate, arrest and remove fugitives from the United States.

Value of counterfeit or pirated merchandize seizures increases by more than 20% compared to 2006 totals

Although the total number of seizures dropped from 14,675 in 2006 to 13,657 in 2007, the total value of those seizures increased from $155,369,236 to $196,754,377.

National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center opens in Virginia

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement-led Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center co-locates, for the first time, the regulators and law enforcement agencies that work to protect public safety and national security by stopping the importation of counterfeit, substandard and tainted products and the theft of intellectual property. The IPR Center's early partners include U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Department of Commerce, Health and Human Services' Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Justice's Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

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John T. Morton is appointed assistant secretary of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

John Morton was unanimously confirmed as assistant secretary of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement by the Senate on May 12, 2009. Prior to his appointment by the president, Morton spent 15 years at the Department of Justice. At the Department of Justice, Morton served in several positions including assistant United States attorney, counsel to the deputy attorney general and acting deputy assistant attorney general of the criminal division. His title changed to director July 2010.

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Inside U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the two largest directorates are renamed

Detention and Removal Operations is renamed Enforcement and Removal Operations and Office of Investigations is renamed Homeland Security Investigations. In a message to employees about the name changes, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Morton says that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will be better able to fulfill its mission if it is aligned around its two core operational responsibilities of criminal investigations and civil immigration enforcement.

10th anniversary of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement recognized by President Barack Obama

10th anniversary of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement recognized by President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama recognizes the 10th anniversary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and its component agencies in a presidential proclamation, calling on all Americans to recognize the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for improving America's readiness and resilience.

ICE launches smartphone app to locate predators, rescue children from sexual abuse and exploitation

ICE launches smartphone app to locate predators, rescue children from sexual abuse and exploitation

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) launched Sept. 12  a new smartphone app – the first of its kind in U.S. federal law enforcement – designed to seek the public's help with fugitive and unknown suspect child predators.

Veteran "HEROs" join ICE efforts to bring child predators to justice

ICE launches smartphone app to locate predators, rescue children from sexual abuse and exploitation

Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Rand Beers Oct. 18 joined U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Acting Director John Sandweg, U.S. Special Operations Command Director of the Care Coalition Kevin McDonnell and National Association to Protect Children Executive Director Grier Weeks in a swearing in ceremony for 17 veterans – many of whom were wounded in the line of duty – as part of the inaugural class of Human Exploitation Rescue Operative Child Rescue Corps, or HERO Corps

Federal agencies seize more than $21.6 million in fake NFL merchandise during 'Operation Team Player'

Federal agencies seize more than $21.6 million in fake NFL merchandise during 'Operation Team Player'

Federal officials teamed with the National Football League (NFL) Jan. 30 to announce the record-breaking results of a nationwide law enforcement effort aimed at combatting counterfeit sports merchandise.

Thomas S. Winkowski is appointed Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Thomas S. Winkowski is appointed Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of ICE

Thomas S. Winkowski is appointed as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of ICE by Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson March 17. Prior to assuming responsibility for ICE, Winkowski held a series of leadership positions during his nearly four decades with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and its predecessor agencies, including as Acting Commissioner of CBP.

ICE launches national cyber safety campaign to help protect kids from online sexual predators

ICE launches national cyber safety campaign to help protect kids from online sexual predators

Representatives from federal and local law enforcement, along with a leading children's advocacy organization, announced March 25 the launch of Project iGuardian, a first-of-its-kind national cyber safety campaign spearheaded by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in partnership with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC).

Sarah R. Saldaña sworn in as fourth director of ICE

Sarah R. Saldana sworn in as fourth director of ICE

On December 23, Sarah R. Saldaña is sworn in as the Assistant Secretary of ICE.

Prior to assuming responsibility for ICE, Director Saldaña served as the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Texas. In that position, she led a staff of more than 200 employees, including approximately 100 attorneys.

2,059 convicted criminals arrested in ICE nationwide operation

Operation Cross Check

A five-day nationwide operation targeting convicted criminal aliens subject to removal from the United States yielded the arrest of 2,059 convicted criminals. The operation was led by ICE’s ERO.

The operation, dubbed “Cross Check,” began Sunday, March 1, and ended Thursday, March 5. Hundreds of ERO officers participated in the operation that focused on the arrests of public safety threats. Those arrested are from 94 countries and have a wide array of criminal convictions.

ICE arrests wanted child predator following public tip

ICE arrests wanted child predator following public tip

ICE HSI arrested a suspected child predator in Raleigh after a tip from the public led to his identification.

Akers was identified by a member of the public who told investigators that he was employed in the Information Technology department of a Raleigh company. Within hours of the tip, HSI Raleigh special agents confirmed that Akers was indeed the John Doe who appeared in the video and arrested him while he was working the night shift at his company.

ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations arrests 200th criminal alien convicted of sex crime under Sex Offender Registration Initiative

ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations arrests 200th criminal alien convicted of sex crime under Sex Offender Registration Initiative

One of ICE’s priorities is arresting child predators and bringing them to a court of law where they face justice, or in some cases, sending them back to their home countries.

ERO’s Sex Offender Registration (SOR) initiative, which started in 2013, resulted in the arrest of 200 criminal aliens convicted of sex crimes in March 2015.

ICE arrests 976 gang members and associates during 'Project Wildfire' surge

Project Wildfire

Nearly 1,000 gang members and associates from 239 different gangs were arrested in 282 cities across the U.S. during Project Wildfire, a six-week operation led by ICE’s HSI. The operation targeted transnational criminal gangs and others associated with transnational criminal activity.

West Michigan fugitives surrender after being profiled on ICE's smartphone app to locate accused child predators

West Michigan Fugitives

A west Michigan pair, who absconded during a federal child pornography investigation, are arrested after they surrendered to local authorities.

Authorities followed up on several tips in the intervening week after the pair was added to the Operation Predator app but their exact whereabouts remained unknown.

ICE's Top 10 Milestones

  • November 2002 – Homeland Security Act of 2002 signed
  • March 2003 – U.S. Department of Homeland Security officially begins operations
  • March 2003 – Michael J. Garcia is nominated as the assistant secretary for Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement
  • January 2006 – Julie L. Myers is appointed assistant secretary for Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement
  • March 2007 – Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement renamed U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
  • July 2008 – National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center opens in Virginia
  • November 2008 – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement opens new headquarters
  • May 2009 – John T. Morton is appointed assistant secretary of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
  • June 2010 – Inside U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the two largest directorates are renamed. Detention and Removal Operations is renamed Enforcement and Removal Operations and Office of Investigations is renamed Homeland Security Investigations.
  • March 2013 – 10th anniversary of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement recognized by President Barack Obama
Last Reviewed/Updated: 03/02/2018
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