Secretary John Kelly of the DHS has announced the establishment of the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement Office (VOICE). The Office will enable victims or witnesses of crime allegedly perpetrated by illegal aliens to:
- Report crimes to ICE;
- Allow victims access to custody information about the purported criminals; and
- Support victims and witnesses of crimes committed by illegal aliens.
Victims’ rights organizations, both governmental and otherwise, are not new. Indeed, a database solution (Victim Information and Notification Everyday or VINE) used by most states was introduced in 1994 to allow crime victims and other concerned citizens to check on an offender’s custody status. VOICE and VINE-DHS simply focus on crimes committed by undocumented aliens and provide immigration-related advice to crime victims.
From the earliest days of his campaign, President Donald Trump focused on the victims of crimes committed by undocumented aliens. He spoke of Mexican criminals crossing the border and, in his February 2017 speech to a Joint Session of Congress, referred to victims “who have been ignored by our media, and silenced by special interests” before introducing the family members of several of them.
VOICE was officially established in Trump’s Executive Order on “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States.” Section 13 of that Order directs ICE to establish an office “to provide proactive, timely, adequate, and professional services to victims of crimes committed by removable aliens and the family members of such victims.” The Order also focuses on transparency with the “American public” and establishes quarterly reports “studying the effects of the victimization by criminal aliens” and reporting the immigration status of all incarcerated and convicted aliens. Section 14 of the Order, perhaps to allow dissemination of personally identifiable information, states that to the extent lawful, individuals who are not U.S. citizens or green card holders should be excluded from certain privacy protections. The President’s Executive Order on “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” (aka, the “Travel Ban” Order) also calls for reports and data collection to be made publicly available regarding “any . . . information relevant to public safety and security as determined by the Secretary of Homeland Security or the Attorney General, including information on the immigration status of foreign national charged with major offenses.” These public reports are perhaps a reinvention of the late-19th and early-20th century “big city” police practice of breaking down crime statistics by national origin.
While VOICE was established to help and serve the needs of crime victims and their families, protestors reportedly attempted to flood the website with reports of alien/UFO activity during the first days of the VOICE “hotline.”