Published: Fri, April 28, 2017
Life&Culture | By Kristin Armstrong

Homeland Security formally opening immigrant crime office

Homeland Security formally opening immigrant crime office

The Trump administration officially launched an office on Wednesday dedicated to the victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants-an effort that immigrant advocates say does not align with actual crime data and appears created to demonize immigrants.

The Trump administration on Wednesday opened an office dedicated to helping victims of crimes committed by immigrants - an initiative criticized as misguided because studies have shown immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native-born citizens.

The Homeland Security Department launched an office for American victims of immigrant crime Wednesday.

"There are certainly more constructive ways to make one's opinions heard than to prevent legitimate victims of crime from receiving the information and resources they seek because the lines are tied up by hoax callers", an ICE spokesperson said about the hotline, 1-855-48-VOICE (6423), getting trolled.

Officials said they would provide such information to all victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants, without inquiring about the victims' immigration status. "The goal of this office is not to demonize all immigrants or illegal aliens; it's to support those who have been harmed, and to assist them in seeking justice", Vaughn told Vocativ.

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And soon, people inevitably said they were beginning to call the hotline to report "criminal alien" activity of a different kind than that envisioned by Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. "The office is called VOICE, Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement".

On January 25, President Donald Trump ordered the resumption of the 2008 Secure Communities program that relied on information-sharing among local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to identify and deport immigrants with criminal records.

"They are casualties of crimes that should never have taken place because the people who victimized them should never have been in our country", Kelly said. "I think there are a lot of people who have been searching for something they can do to speak out, and I'm glad that so many people are showing solidarity with the immigrant community", he said.

But migrant rights groups have criticised the decision to launch VOICE. He said the VOICE name is fitting because the government is giving 'for the first time a voice of their own to these victims'.

The American Immigration Council says this "holds true for both legal immigrants and the unauthorised, regardless of their country of origin or level of education". The official also emphasized several times that the hotline was intended exclusively for victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants, and not reporters. The driver, who was in the country illegally, had been arrested previously on other criminal charges but was released.

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