29 Mar 2016

America’s immigration enforcement agency is getting a lesson in tolerance and cultural understanding.

According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 20 of the agency’s “high-level managers” underwent a three-day cultural awareness program this month at Los Angeles’ Museum of Tolerance (MOT). ICE is the first federal agency to undergo the “tools for tolerance” training with MOT.

“There’s a current exhibit at the Museum of Tolerance that asks visitors to ‘change the way you see and see the way you change,” ICE Director Sarah Saldana said in a statement. “That’s really the crux of what we’re seeking to accomplish through this joint initiative. We want ICE’s leaders to be agents of change, taking what they learn in this training and using it to transform the way they tackle the daily challenges they face in the workplace.”

The curriculum, ICE said, was customized for ICE but uses the MOT’s exhibits, challenging “participants to recognize their own inherent cultural biases and identify ways to develop progressive leadership practices in their respective programs.”

This month’s training session was the first of three planned MOT courses for ICE officials. In addition to the MOT exhibits, the training also includes guest speakers, like Terrence James Roberts, a Congressional Gold Medal recipient who was one of the first black students to attend classes at Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas in 1957.

The immigration enforcement agency said it first sought MOT’s expertise in 2014, hoping the museum might create a training program for ICE’s supervisors. Following several pilot training sessions, MOT created a tailored curriculum for ICE personnel.

“Our relationship with ICE has been a true partnership. It’s inspiring to work with an agency that is so committed to ensuring the success of its employees that it has invested considerable time and energy to planning and refining a program that is relevant, challenging and impactful,” the Director of Professional Development Programs for the Museum of Tolerance, Mark Katrikh, said in a statement. “We have been most impressed with the quality and depth of conversation that has emerged during the training.”

The MOT was opened in 1993 and has more than 250,000 visitors each year. The MOT describes itself as “a human rights laboratory and educational center dedicated to challenging visitors to understand the Holocaust in both historic and contemporary contexts and confront all forms of prejudice and discrimination in our world today.”