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Homeland Security Unit Rebrands To Avoid Stigma Caused By ICE

The investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security is launching an effort this week to distance itself from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, its parent agency, because officials say the contentious politics of immigration enforcement have undercut its efforts to combat transnational crime, the Washington Post reports. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) will remain a branch of ICE but will debut its own website next week, scrubbed of ICE insignia, and give employees new email addresses. The rebranding effort will prominently feature HSI’s own badge and emphasize its affiliation with the Department of Homeland Security, instead of ICE. The makeover partly aims to appease senior HSI agents who have sought a breakaway because so many major U.S. cities have adopted policies limiting cooperation with ICE. It would take an act of Congress to make HSI a fully independent agency within DHS, so the relaunch amounts to a compromise.

HSI officials say the ICE stigma follows them whenever they attempt to work with police departments and public officials in places with sanctuary policies shielding their immigrant populations from deportation. HSI investigators say they have been kicked off joint narcotics investigations, heckled at campus career fairs, and shunned by crime victims worried they’ll be arrested and deported. HSI’s new “independent branding” will allow its agents “to work without the undue toxicity that in some places comes with the ICE moniker,” said Patrick Lechleitner, ICE’s acting director. Several of large cities have enacted sanctuary policies that prohibit or limit their police departments and city officials from cooperating with ICE, including New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago. Sanctuary policies have been a blow to HSI, which has 6,000 agents, 93 offices abroad, and a broad mandate to investigate transnational crimes, including terrorism, drug smuggling, human trafficking, and money laundering. “We needed to give HSI space to operate and do the criminal investigations, as much as possible unaffected by the political turmoil that’s involved with civil immigration," Lechleitner said.


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