On April 26, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security announced the launching of a new office for victims of crimes committed by criminal aliens [link].
The office is called the Victims of Immigration Crime Enforcement Office (VOICE), and the goal of the VOICE office is to “assist victims of crimes committed by criminal aliens.”
The VOICE office was created in response to President Donald Trump's January 25, 2017, Executive Order 13768 titled “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States” [see 82 FR 8799]. Please see our full article for a detailed analysis of Executive Order 13768, including a discussion of President Trump's directive to create the VOICE office [see article].
In announcing the creation of the VOICE office, the Secretary of Homeland Security, John Kelly, stated that those who are victims of crimes committed by criminal aliens “are casualties of crimes that should have never taken place-because the people who victimized them often times should not have been in the country in the first place.”
The DHS news release lists the following as the key objectives of the VOICE office:
- Use a victim-centered approach to acknowledge and support victims and their families.
- Promote awareness of available services to crime victims.
- Build collaborative partnerships with community stakeholders assisting victims.
The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) created the following toll-free hotline “to ensure victims [of crimes committed by criminal aliens] receive the support they need”: 1-855-48-VOICE.
The DHS explains that victims of crimes committed by criminal aliens can expect to receive the following types of support from the VOICE office:
- Local contacts to help with unique victim requests;
- Access to social service professionals able to refer victims to resources and service providers;
- Assistance signing-up to receive automated inmate custody status information; and
- Additional criminal or immigration history about a criminal alien (may be available on a case-by-case basis).
These various services will be provided by the ICE and the DHS-Victim Information and Notification Exchange (DHS-VINE).
The DHS explained that the ICE “is employing a measured approach to building the VOICE office.” Accordingly, the DHS plans to expand the services VOICE offers as it builds the office. It will use information collected to determine what additional services to provide in the future.
The VOICE office is part of the Trump administration's emphasis on not only increasing enforcement against criminal aliens, but also shining a light on crimes committed by aliens, especially those who are present in the United States without legal authorization. It must be noted that, unlike many other provisions of President Trump's Executive Order on interior enforcement, the VOICE office does not actually have an effect on immigration enforcement. None of its provisions deal with enforcement priorities or any other enforcement actions against aliens in the United States. It is unclear what types of services the VOICE office may offer in the future in addition to the available services at launch. Crime victims who are interested in availing themselves to the VOICE office's services may find more information on the DHS website.