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Homeland Security agency under ICE rebrands to aid its investigations

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(LOS ANGELES) — When federal agents raided the house of rapper Sean “Diddy” Combs last month — as part of a case in which Combs denies wrongdoing — it wasn’t the FBI but rather agents from Homeland Security Investigations, or HSI, who led the way.


That put the agency, an arm of the Department of Homeland Security, in a fresh spotlight.

But HSI has long been familiar to those who track immigration-related law enforcement for its ties to its parent agency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which is something that HSI is now trying to change.

The agency on Tuesday is going through a rebrand, changing their website from being associated with ICE to just HSI.gov.

That reflects an intentional push to distance HSI’s work from immigration policy, which has increasingly fueled Democratic attacks on ICE and led some cities, counties and states to enact so-called “sanctuary” policies to prevent cooperation with ICE officials related to a suspect’s immigration status.

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“So many of our stakeholders are our law enforcement partners, the American public, private sector partners, NGOs — [they] are often confused about what we do, and the civil immigration enforcement side of the ICE mission is not what HSI does,” HSI Acting Director Katrina Berger told ABC News in an interview.

“Having a being branded as ICE, having an ICE email address, we’re oftentimes not able to partner with law enforcement in certain jurisdictions that aren’t working with ICE, oftentimes college campuses, schools,” Berger said.

The rebrand is a better opportunity for HSI to inform the public about what they do — and keep criminals off the streets, Berger said.

HSI’s mission is broad, officials note, from preventing terrorists from entering the country to identifying and supporting victims that are rescued from child exploitation situations to stopping financial fraud and the flow of counterfeit goods.

“We focus on our mission which is the global investigation of transnational crime impacting or our communities, and that really gets lost out there,” Berger said. “We are a criminal law enforcement agency.”

HSI will still be under ICE, but the new distance in identification will help with outreach to the public, according to Berger.

One of HSI’s core missions is “to better educate teachers, children, teenagers on a lot of the bad things that can happen online with child predators,” she explained. “I think [rebranding] is a big step forward.”

“We’re just able to independently brand ourselves, to better show people exactly what we do to keep the American public safe,” she said.

Berger said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas had authorized the rebrand, which could be a morale boost for agents.

“It gives us more opportunities to work better with our partners or communities,” she said.

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