The administration of the Biden administration has dissolved and replaced a Homeland Security Office established under Trump’s presidency to assist victims of crime by migrants in a further departure from its border policy predecessor.
In 2017, Trump established VOICE (Victim Of Immigration Crime Engagement Office) in a managerial order.
VOICE was established for the purpose of recognizing and meeting the needs of victims of crimes and their families impacted by crimes committed by persons subject to ICE investigative competence,” states DHS on its website.
“I had to hold the hand of too many moms who lost a kid to a DUI or anybody else who was raped by an illegal immigrant or someone with an immigration connection,” stated VOICE director Barbara Gonzalez in October 2019. “It is an issue that we as a nation cannot ignore.”
VOICE will now be replaced with the Victims Engagement and Services Line, dubbed a “more comprehensive and inclusive victim assistance system,” which enables crime reporting from anybody regardless of immigration status.
“Assistance to the most disadvantaged society is a fundamental American principle. Everyone should be able to receive victim services without fear irrespective of their immigration status, “Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas stated.
The new Victim of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) office is opened by Home Secretary for Security John Kelly at a press conference on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Washington, DC, April 20, 2017. (Press Associated)
Victims may report abuse at immigration centres, and the new agency aims to identify possible visas for victims of trafficking in human beings or violent crimes in the United States.
Stephen Miller, who helped develop many of Trump’s key policies on immigration, called the move a “moral blot on our nation’s conscience” and likened the new Office’s purpose to enable drug traffickers to get the Drug Enforcement Administration’s assistance in their crimes.
DHS “is a law enforcement organization, not a criminal and legal aid centre,” he said.
In the most recent online quarterly report for the final three months of the year 2018, VOICE reported that it had made 781 calls during the three-month period, with just 256 of the calls being made to services. About half of these inquiries were about the status of immigration applications, and many other requests were for assistance, for example social services, to help deal with the effects of domestic abuse or assault.
Vice President Kamala Harris, who was appointed to study the root causes of the border crisis by President Biden, faced bipartisan criticism that Guatemalan people did not visit the border, that they were told not to try to get asylum during a trip this week, or that some people were saying she seemed unprepared.
Jen Psaki, Secretary of the White House, said last week Harris was “may” going to the border but wouldn’t give a date.
During the early months of his administration, Biden faced a historic rise of migrants on the border.