Trump’s new of­fice on im­mi­grant crime is dra­matic pol­icy over­haul

Austin American-Statesman - - VIEW POINTS -

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is spot­light- ing vi­o­lence com­mit­ted by im­mi­grants, an­nounc­ing the cre­ation of a na­tional of­fice to as­sist Amer­i­can vic­tims of such crimes. He said dur­ing his ad­dress Tues­day night that the Home­land Se­cu­rity Depart­ment’s Vic­tims Of Im­mi­gra­tion Crime En­gage­ment of­fice will pro­vide a voice for peo­ple ig­nored by the me­dia and “si­lenced by spe­cial in­ter­ests.”

Crit­ics of the pres­i­dent’s ap­proach to im­mi­gra­tion say the pro­posal is mis­guided, in part be­cause stud­ies show im­mi­grants are less likely to com­mit crime than na­tive- born U.S. cit­i­zens.

A look at the pro­posal and what it aims to do: Q: What is the Vic­tims Of Im­mi­gra­tion Crime En­gage­ment of­fice?

A: Trump’s plan is to cre­ate VOICE as an agency to en­sure that vic­tims of im­mi­grant crime are kept abreast of de­vel­op­ments in their cases and the de­por­ta­tion pro­ceed- ings against sus­pects. It’s a role sim­i­lar to that of vic­tim ad­vo­cates who work in lo­cal and state courts.

Home­land Se­cu­rity Sec- re­tary John Kelly de­tailed the of­fice’s planned work in a memo last month that ex­plained how his agency would carry out Trump’s im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment pol- icies. Kelly said in the memo that Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus- toms En­force­ment was pre­vi­ously blocked from keep- ing vic­tims in­formed about their on­go­ing cases be­cause it ex­tended pri­vacy pro­tec­tions to im­mi­grants, a pol­icy that left “vic­tims feel­ing marginal­ized and with­out a voice.”

The new of­fice con­tin­ues a dra­matic over­haul of immi- gra­tion poli­cies.

Un­der Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, ICE pro­tected in­for- ma­tion about im­mi­gra­tion cases from pub­lic in­spec- tion, in­clud­ing from vic­tims of crimes com­mit­ted by immi- grants. It also cre­ated a pub­lic ad­vo­cate po­si­tion in 2012 in the midst of an over­haul of poli­cies about which im­mi­grants in the coun­try il­le­gally should be tar­geted for de­por­ta­tion. Q: How large is the prob­lem of crime com­mit­ted by im­mi­grants?

A: Mul­ti­ple stud­ies have con­cluded that im­mi­grants are less likely to com­mit crime than na­tive-born U.S. cit­i­zens. A 2014 study pub­lished in the jour­nal Jus­tice Quar­terly con­cluded that im­mi­grants “ex­hibit re­mark­ably low lev­els of in­volve­ment in crime across their life course.”

Trump, how­ever, listed some high-pro­file ex­am­ples in his Tues­day night speech to Congress, point­ing to guests in the crowd, in­clud­ing a man whose son was shot by a gang mem­ber in Los An­ge­les and the wives of po­lice of­fi­cers who were killed on duty.

The new of­fice fits into his hard-line stance on im­mi­gra­tion, which in­cludes a pro­posal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico bor­der and new guid­ance that Home­land Se­cu­rity will sub­ject any im­mi­grants in the coun­try il­le­gally to de­por­ta­tion if he or she is charged with or con­victed of any of­fense, or even sus­pected of a crime. Q: What hap­pens next?

A: U.S. Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment says it is re­ar­rang­ing ex­ist­ing per­son­nel to sup­port the new of­fice and is “cur­rently draft­ing out­reach ma­te­ri­als for vic­tims and fam­i­lies im­pacted by im­mi­gra­tion crime.”

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