Biden administration dissolves program that helps victims of crimes committed by immigrants

United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said it was replacing the Victim Of Immigration Crime Engagement Office (VOICE) with a “more comprehensive and inclusive victim support system.”

Former President Trump created VOICE by executive order during his first week in January 2017. The replacement is called The Victims Engagement and Services Line, which will combine existing services, such as methods for people to report abuse and mistreatment in immigration detention centers and a notification system for lawyers and others with an interest in immigration cases. The new office will also add a service for recipients of visas designated for victims of human trafficking or violent crimes in the United States.

“Providing assistance to society’s most vulnerable is a core American value. All people, regardless of their immigration status, should be able to access victim services without fear,” said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. There is a difference of tone regarding immigration between the Biden and Trump administrations. While some studies suggest immigrants are less likely to commit crime than native-born, former President Trump relentlessly sought to establish a link. His 2016 presidential portrayed undocumented migrants as violent criminals and highlighted the MS-13 gang, which was started by MS-13 Salvadorian immigrants.

To advance his immigration agenda, Trump invited “angel families” — people whose loved ones had been victims of crimes by immigrants — to campaign rallies and speeches. “I’ve had to hold the hand of too many mothers who lost a child to a DUI or somebody else who’s been raped by an illegal alien or someone with a nexus to immigration,” Barbara Gonzalez, the then-director of VOICE, told reporters in October 2019. “”It is a problem we cannot ignore as a country.”

In April, the Biden administration ordered U.S. officials to stop using terms like “illegal alien” and instead say “undocumented noncitizen.” Vice President Kamala Harris drew strong criticism from the administration’s pro immigration allies for telling potential migrants during a visit to Guatemala on Monday, “Do not come. Do not come,” and that they would be denied entry at the U.S. border.

Stephen Miller, a key architect of President Trump’s immigration policies, called the decision to close VOICE a “moral stain on the conscience of our nation.” Miller compared the office to the Drug Enforcement Administration, saying it is “a call center to help drug dealers get lawyers and amnesty for their crimes.” Miller also said the Department of Homeland Security “is a law enforcement agency, not a legal help center for criminals and lawbreakers.”


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