ICE Department Rebrand Spurs Internal Discontent

Homeland Security Investigations Agent with Customs Border Protection Agent
Homeland Security Investigations Agent with Customs Border Protection Agent | Image by ICE/Twitter

The Homeland Security Investigations unit in Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been undergoing a rebrand to help distance itself from the agency, prompting backlash from some within the department.

HSI, which “investigates crime on a global scale,” unveiled a new website on Tuesday that does not include any ICE branding.

“The new website is a reflection of HSI’s commitment to its mission and core values in fighting global threats and protecting American lives,” said the head of HSI, Katrina W. Berger, according to The Washington Times.

“With more than 400 criminal statutes to enforce, HSI’s broad and diverse criminal investigative mission has an immediate impact on public safety and the security of our communities,” she said.

The rebrand reportedly stems from frustration within the unit about being associated with ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), which handles the deportation of unlawful migrants, according to The Washington Times.

Sanctuary cities across the country have reportedly been hesitant to work with HSI units in the past due to concerns over being associated with ICE deportations.

Patrick J. Lechleitner, ICE’s acting director, said that HSI’s “independent branding” will allow agents to “work without the undue toxicity that in some places comes with the ICE moniker,” according to The Washington Post.

Lechleitner further noted that the rebrand could help the department avoid the political debates occurring within sanctuary cities and allow HSI to become more efficient and effective.

“We’re not a political organization. We’re a law enforcement, national security, public safety agency. However, it was affecting HSI’s ability to conduct operations and investigations,” he said, as reported by The Washington Post.

Despite the rebrand being supported by both Berger and Lechleitner, officials in ERO have been upset about the attempt to create distance between the two departments.

ERO Executive Associate Director Daniel Bible voiced displeasure with the HSI rebrand and wrote in an internal email obtained by Fox News that decisions by ERO were “guided by what is believed to be the best for it operational and programmatically,” adding that there will not be a “wholesale rebranding of ERO.”

“ERO operates with professionalism, honor, compassion, and integrity. Our mission will not be swayed by political theater or media rhetoric, and our identity will remain steadfast,” he added, according to Fox News.

Jon Feere, who served as the ICE chief of staff during the Trump administration, also spoke out about the rebrand, saying that the decision would likely not affect sanctuary cities’ cooperation since a “new webpage isn’t going to change these jurisdictions’ hostility to immigration enforcement.”

“All sanctuary jurisdictions are well aware that HSI is part of ICE and that HSI has the authority to enforce immigration laws,” he explained, according to The Washington Times.

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