The Department of Homeland Security announced Wednesday the official launch of VOICE — Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement — a department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) dedicated to assisting victims of criminal illegal aliens.
“All crime is terrible, but these victims are unique, and too often ignored,” said DHS Secretary John Kelly in a prepared statement. “They are casualties of crimes that should never have taken place — because the people who victimized them oftentimes should not have been in the country in the first place.”
“The carnage left by criminal illegal aliens will no longer be this nation’s unspoken secret.”
“There’s no intent to make a pun,” DHS spokesman David Lapan told reporters in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, “but it really is to give a voice to the victims of crimes that have been committed by those who are in the country illegally.”
As the official press release notes, the creation of VOICE is a direct result of President Donald Trump’s executive order titled “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States.” The order directed DHS to offer support services to victims of illegal alien crime.
“Trump has put a face to these people,” Marguerite Telford, director of communications for the Center for Immigration Studies, told LifeZette. “I can remember Trump at one point saying [to victims of criminal illegal aliens], ‘I cannot forget you when I go into office, you will not be forgotten,'” Telford noted, “and I think it really speaks volumes that he has established this office — he hasn’t forgotten.”
Other advocates for immigration enforcement were quick to praise the DHS action.
“Thanks to VOICE, American parents and families who have lost loved ones to criminal illegal aliens — people who should not have been in the U.S. in the first place — are no longer invisible,” said Dave Ray, director of communications for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), told LifeZette.
“Their government has finally acknowledged their suffering and has given them a voice, by providing services to help them rebuild their lives,” he said.
Others who have witnessed firsthand the impact of illegal-alien crime on communities spoke to having compassion for victims.
“One of the main reasons I ran for Congress was my frustration with the federal government’s refusal to enforce our existing immigration laws,” said Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Penn.) in an official statement. “When I was mayor, Hazleton was overrun by illegal immigrants who brought with them gangs, drugs, identify theft, fraud, and other crimes. I always heard that we have to have compassion for the person who comes here illegally, but no one speaks up for the victims of these crimes,” he said.
“I had to sit with people who lost loved ones who were victims, and I have compassion for them. I commend the Trump administration for opening the VOICE office and standing up for victims and their families.”
The program’s rollout was especially meaningful to Maria Espinoza, director of The Remembrance Project, and those who are part of her organization, whose tireless activism on behalf of victims’ families was instrumental in laying the groundwork for VOICE.
“This felt like a watershed moment for families and The Remembrance Project,” Tim Lyng, president of The Remembrance Project, told LifeZette.
“Back in April 2015, Maria and three others from her group ‘America First Latinos,’ (months prior to Donald Trump entering the presidential race) sent letters to all 50 state governors, requesting a program that would formally acknowledge and assist these very same American families,” Lyng said. “Unfortunately, there was not one encouraging response then, and the issue lay unresolved until March 2016, when Maria sent a similar letter to the four remaining GOP presidential hopefuls. As you may know, only one candidate responded, and that was now-President Donald Trump.”
In addition to the support services for victims of criminal illegal aliens offered by ICE through VOICE — which include a toll-free hotline, community relations officers, and a “cadre” of victim-assistance specialists throughout the country — DHS launched the DHS-Victim Information and Notification Exchange (DHS-VINE).
DHS-VINE is a “free, confidential service that provides crime victims/witnesses, their family members, and victim advocates confidential notification of changes in custody status” of the criminal aliens who hurt them, and eventually see for themselves that the danger has been removed from the country.
The service “will allow everyday Americans and those victimized by criminal illegal aliens to quantify the size and scope of the criminal alien problem in the U.S., while also tracking specific cases,” said Ray. “The carnage left by criminal illegal aliens will no longer be this nation’s unspoken secret.”
“Maria and I both believe that the creation of VOICE will definitely shed a new and missing light on the illegal alien problem,” said Lyng. “We have been saying that, for decades, the killings of Americans by illegal aliens, whether intentional or accidental, has been one of the most under-reported and sensational news items, possibly ever, to not come across the wire,” he said.
“Average Americans, many who may be totally unaware of anything but an “isolated death” will learn, over the next several months, that this crime wave is epidemic and crosses all jurisdictional and socio-economic layers in the America.”
Others aren’t so sure, however. “it’s going to make their stories more public … but of course it only really becomes public … when the [mainstream] media report it,” said Telford.
If you or a loved one is the victim of a criminal alien, you can reach VOICE at 1-855-48-VOICE or 1-855-488-6423.