The Biden administration recently said that it had shut down a Trump-era federal agency that assisted victims of immigration-related crimes.
During his first week in office in Jan. 2017, Trump established the Victim Of Immigration Crime Engagement Office, or VOICE, by executive order, CBS News reported.
VOICE will be replaced by The Victims Engagement and Services Line, a “more comprehensive and inclusive victim support system,” according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
“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. “This administration is committed to providing a reliable source of information and guidance for all victims irrespective of their status.”
Acting ICE Director Tae Johnson said that people who contact the new ICE office for assistance would not be queried about their immigration status, according to the ICE press release.
The decision to terminate VOICE, according to Stephen Miller, a key architect of Mr. Trump’s immigration policies, is a “moral stain on the conscience of our nation.”
He compared the new office to the Drug Enforcement Administration opening “a call center to help drug dealers get lawyers and amnesty for their crimes.”
The Department of Homeland Security “is a law enforcement agency, not a legal help center for criminals and lawbreakers,” Miller emphasized.
While many studies show that immigrants, whether legal or illegal, are less likely to commit crimes than native-born people, proponents of stricter immigration policies argue that even a single crime committed by someone who entered the country illegally is too much and was made possible by lax border security.
“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 Oct. 2019. “It is a problem we cannot ignore as a country.
Republicans argue that Trump’s tactics and rhetoric were effective in deterring illegal immigration. The Biden administration’s rollback of some of them has resulted in a record-high increase in the number of people crossing the border unlawfully.
According to a recent report from the United States Customs and Border Protection, the agency detained 180,034 people illegally entering the country in May, the highest monthly total in 21 years.
In addition to revoking some Trump-era immigration regulations, the Biden administration has attempted to tone down its language and definitions. In April, it issued an order instructing U.S. authorities to avoid using terminology like “illegal alien” and instead use the phrase “undocumented noncitizen.”