After two years of intense focus, domestic and international outreach and dedicated public service at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Director Sarah R. Saldaña is retiring from the federal government.
Dignitaries, special guests and employees from ICE, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other federal agencies joined Director Saldaña’s family and friends to celebrate the Director’s distinguished federal service at a heartfelt retirement ceremony Jan. 11 in Washington, D.C.
“I am going to miss you all,” Director Saldaña said, becoming emotional at several points during her remarks when talking about the men and women of ICE. “Keep your heads high; we have so much to be proud of in this agency.”
DHS Acting Deputy Secretary Russell C. Deyo served as the guest speaker, and talked about Director Saldaña’s law enforcement leadership gifts.
“I’ve been on the southwest border and have seen ICE professionals handle very difficult situations very well,” Acting Deputy Secretary Deyo said. “That is a reflection on your fine leadership. It’s been a pleasure to work with you.”
During the ceremony, the Director recognized her friend Col. Reynaldo Rodriguez — a proud Mexican-American veteran in his tenth decade of life. He was spry of mind and body, and stood next to the Director while she spoke of his service as a navigator for Air Force One starting with President Kennedy.
She said that there are many people like Mr. Rodriguez who are not recognized for their service and that she wanted to include him in her ceremony.
The Director also shared her retirement plans, which include staying involved with ICE’s mission, joining the board of her church in Dallas, Texas, and working on a foundation set up in her son’s name that will provide supplies and resources to children who are creative and need financial assistance.
Director Saldaña was sworn in as the fourth director of ICE Dec. 23, 2014. As ICE’s director, she led the largest investigative agency within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and was the first Latina to do so.
She proudly represented ICE before the U.S. Congress, to the national and local media and in the community, visiting many international and domestic locations as the agency’s chief.
“Obviously, I’m not the person who did the work,” she said reflecting on her time at ICE.
“We often credit the Director as opposed to the workforce and I’m here to say that is not the most appropriate focus. The focus should be on the men and women of ICE who do all that they do.”
Prior to joining ICE, Saldaña served as the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas.