Breaking News Emails
Aliens are here and up to mischief — if the prank calls to a newly established government hotline are to be believed.
Reports of space aliens and UFOs may have tied up lines at Immigration and Customs Enforcement's newly launched office for victims following a frenzied Twitter campaign on Wednesday.
The VOICE hotline, established on Wednesday through an executive order, aims to provide public information and resources to the victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants.
But one Twitter user decided to take a stand against the hotline, which he considers "absurd," after noticing that it was introduced on Alien Day — an annual promotional event dedicated to the "Alien" movie franchise starring Sigourney Weaver.
Alex McCoy, 28, encouraged others online to call the hotline and report encounters with extraterrestrial beings.
"I thought this was a chance to push back on how Trump has demonized the immigrant community. [The idea] really took off," he told NBC News.
McCoy said that wait times were over 20 minutes and that the line crashed Thursday morning.
ICE spokesman Bryan Cox said the hotline did not crash, but he confirmed to NBC News that the office received alien-related prank calls. He said additional operators will be added if future data reveal long wait times.
"The VOICE line remains in operation," Cox said. "As yesterday was its first day, I can't give you any sense of whether this group had any impact at all on wait times or call volume, because there's no prior data to compare."
Asked why he opposes the new office, McCoy said that resources for victims of crime already exist but that the Trump administration is highlighting offenses committed by immigrants to advance President Donald Trump's "long attack" against the community.
The online campaign was personal for McCoy, who said he served as a U.S. Marine overseas from 2008 to 2013 alongside immigrants in uniform. McCoy now works for Common Defense, an organization of military members opposed to Trump's policies.
"When Trump attacks the immigrant community, he's attacking all of us," McCoy said. "Victims already have resources. It's not about victims. It's about spinning a political narrative."
McCoy's ultimate goal, he said, is to disband the office entirely.
The new program suffered a separate embarrassment Wednesday night when NPR's Latino USA and the Los Angeles Times reported that VOICE's online database of detained immigrants listed the names of children as young as 2 years old.
Latino USA said it reported the privacy breach to the Department of Homeland Security, ICE's parent agency, on Wednesday night.
ICE representatives told Latino USA and the Los Angeles Times that "the appropriate filter was not applied to the data being made available to site users." NBC News confirmed that the underage listings had been removed from public view by Thursday afternoon.