On Wednesday, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency launched the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement Office, or VOICE, a new branch proposed by the Trump administration to “serve the needs of crime victims and their families who have been impacted by crimes committed by removable criminal aliens.”
President Donald Trump initially promised to create the office during his speech to a joint session of Congress in February, saying he would “[provide] a voice to those who have been ignored by our media, and silenced by special interests.”
During its launch, VOICE also introduced a toll-free hotline, where callers can sign up to receive automated custody status information about an undocumented person in custody, additional criminal or immigration history about them and their families, local contacts to help victims' requests and access to social science professionals and services.
“I’ve been enforcing immigration law for 33 years, today is a good day,” said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement acting director Thomas Homan during a press conference.
But not everyone agrees. The office, and its accompanying hotline, does two things: makes a distinction between people who commit crimes and immigrants who commit crimes, with the latter deemed more severe, and continues to villainize undocumented people as criminals, rapists and drug-runners, just as Trump did when announcing his bid for presidency in 2015.
“The VOICE program won’t do anything to increase public safety,” Black Alliance for Just Immigration Deputy Director Carl Lipscombe told Fusion. “Rather, like all of this administration’s immigration programs, it will serve as another vehicle for those with nationalist, xenophobic tendencies to criminalize and spread fear amongst immigrant families and communities. Today is not a good day.”
Unfortunately, VOICE doesn't seem like it will be going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, according to ICE, it “intends to expand the services VOICE offers in the future.”