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The Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday unveiled a new office aimed at supporting the victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants.
President Donald Trump first announced the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement Office, or VOICE, during his address to a joint session of Congress in February. It is just the latest in Trump’s efforts to crack down on illegal immigration and highlight problems caused by current immigration laws.
“Our mission is clear, and that is to acknowledge the exceptional damage caused by criminal illegal aliens and to support the victims of these preventable crimes,” Director of Homeland Security John Kelly said in a brief statement.
Immigration activists have criticized the creation of the office as an effort to further portray immigrants as criminals, citing crime statistics that show U.S. citizens born in the country are more likely to commit crimes.
VOICE will provide services to victims and their families such as helping them understand immigration enforcement and removal laws, providing them with additional information about a criminal’s immigration history, and receiving automated custody status information, according to the department.
A number of victims and their families were on hand for the announcement.
“They are the casualties of crimes that should never have taken place because the people who victimized them should have never been here in our country,” Kelly said. “There crimes in many ways were preventable...These victims of illegal aliens aren’t data points, they’re people. And they and their families deserve to be treated fairly.”