Controversy is everywhere these days. Not surprisingly, the opening of a new office under the auspices of Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) called Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) began with a bang.
The idea behind the office created under President’s Trump’s Executive Order No. 13768 is to act as a liaison between ICE and the known crimes committed by aliens as well as track crime trends. The order states: “Sanctuary jurisdictions across the United States willfully violate Federal law in an attempt to shield aliens from removal from the United States. These jurisdictions have caused immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our Republic.”
Homeland Security spokesperson David Lapan explained at a press conference that “There are lots of offices and entities that do similar things for crime victims at large, but nobody has the level of understanding of immigration that ICE does. And so it’s a way to keep victims and their families informed not just about the criminal justice aspects of their particular case, but the immigration aspects,” and “where things are in the immigration process as well as the criminal justice process.”
Proponents further argue that generally speaking there is a need for better data to paint a clearer picture of illegal immigrants vis-à-vis crime.
Opponents, such as Senator Bernie Sanders would say that this action serves Trump’s agenda of “stirring up fear and hatred against immigrants and trying to divide our nation.”
It’s hard to imagine the two sides coming to terms. Speaking of terms, some would say that the term “Illegal immigrant” is derogatory and hints that by virtue of being an immigrant, the person is illegal. An immigrant does not a criminal make. Even the Wikipedia entry for this new agency has a neutrality dispute flag. And the term ‘alien’ is not surprisingly under fire. When the VOICE Criminal Alien hotline opened it was immediately bombarded with calls about Aliens – extraterrestrial – in an effort by the opposition to thwart the effort and shut down its phones.
Immigration can be a complicated subject. Surely each side has some legitimate concerns. But what to do about these statistics: according to their website, in 2016, ICE conducted 240,255 removals of nationwide of individuals in the U.S. illegally. Ninety-two percent of these individually had been previously convicted of a crime.