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