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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will realign its duties to promote criminal investigations over immigrant deportation, officials have announced.

By streamlining and renaming several offices, officials hope to highlight the agency’s counterterrorism, money laundering and other complex criminal investigations and in the process “re-brand” ICE, turning the public — and political — spotlight away from its immigration work.

ICE Assistant Secretary John Morton said that immigration enforcement remains a top priority but that the intention of the image makeover is to show the agency’s “true face.”

“Public perception is dominated by civil immigration enforcement responsibilities, even though half of the agency is devoted to something else,” Morton said recently after announcing the changes to ICE employees. “We’re not going to get away from immigration. It’s very important from a national security perspective.”

The realignment also aims to address ICE’s identity crisis, which the agency has struggled with for years. Morton said in an e-mail to employees that one of his priorities “was to give a clearer sense of identity and focus.”

The agency will have a new reporting alignment with three main directorates: investigations, immigration and management. ICE will consolidate its civil immigration duties into a new Enforcement and Removal Operations division. The office, formerly known as detention and removal operations, took the brunt of criticism.

Source: Andrew Becker for The Washington Post.

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