Kate Steinle, the young woman who lost her life at the hands of an illegal immigrant who had been deported and return to the U.S. several times, and others Americans like her were the inspiration behind President Trump’s new initiative aimed at providng support to victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants.
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly announced the opening of the new outreach program, called the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) office, on Wednesday.
“There’s nothing but goodness in what we’re doing today in establishing this office, as it’s an outreach to victims of these crimes,” said Kelly. VOICE is a part of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) which will give victims and family members more peace-of-mind.
“Victims of all types of crimes can get information from various resources about what’s happened to the perpetrators in the criminal justice system, but there wasn’t anyone there to be able to tell them what’s happening on the immigration side,” explained Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spokesman David Lapan.
Trump signed the executive order in January and announced it at his address to a joint session of Congress in February.
“I have ordered the Department of Homeland Security to create an office to serve American victims. The office is called VOICE, Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement,” said Trump.
Critics on Capitol Hill, such as Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), are calling VOICE “propaganda pushed by the Trump administration that’s going to spread fear about a community.”
However, that’s to be expected, said Lapan, noting, “Our point is to give a voice to this particular group of individuals who hasn’t had that.”
The new office will be in charge of putting out “quarterly reports studying the effects of the victimization by criminal aliens present in the United States,” according to Trump’s executive order.
The Hill reported that “the office would not use any new resources, but would redirect ICE’s community relations officers to the new task. The office will also use ICE’s call center and a website as resources for victims.”
Users of the program will reportedly be able to “submit requests for information anonymously, as long as they claim to be victims, witnesses, individuals legally acting on behalf of victims and witnesses, or ‘individuals acting at the request of a victim or witness.'”
Kelly quelled critics’ fears by explaining that VOICE won’t be used for reporting immigration violations and victims and witnesses of illegal aliens will not be asked about their own residency status. “It is not for reporting illegal aliens; it is not for reporting crimes; it is not for curious reporters,” he stated.
H/T: The Hill
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