Biden Administration Shutters Trump Pet Project Linking Immigrants and Crime

Protesters gather to demand the defunding of government agencies for border protection and customs enforcement, Tuesday, June 25, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington.Patrick Semansky/AP

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

During his first week in office, Donald Trump stamped his repeated efforts to frame immigrants as criminals by creating an office to support so-called “angel families,” families whose loved ones were victims of crimes allegedly committed by immigrants. On Friday, Joe Biden’s administration shuttered that office altogether.

Instead, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement will now offer a “more comprehensive and inclusive victim support system” known as the Victims Engagement and Services Line. It will, among other things, allow people to report mistreatment in immigration detention centers and alert lawyers interested in immigration cases. The Biden administration’s move essentially expands who constitutes a victim of the immigration system to include immigrant victims of human trafficking and violent crimes and those suffering in detention. The administration’s move comes on the heels of sharp criticism for Vice President Kamala Harris telling migrants during a trip to Guatemala: “Do not come” to the US. 

The Trump-era office known as the Victim Of Immigration Crime Engagement Office (VOICE) faltered in its mission to link undocumented immigrants to violent crime, relying on the false premise that immigrants perpetuated criminal offenses, even though a 2019 study found that undocumented people in Texas were half as likely to be arrested for violent crimes or drug offenses than those born in the US. The VOICE hotline ultimately was used mostly as a way for undocumented folks to get assistance. According to an Associated Press report on the hotline:

Its most recent quarterly report posted online for the last three months of 2018 said it fielded 781 calls during the three-month period—and that just 256 of the calls pertained to services it offered. About half were requests on the status of immigration cases, and many of the rest were referrals for assistance, such as social services to help cope with impacts of domestic violence or assault.

“Providing assistance to society’s most vulnerable is a core American value,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said about the closure of VOICE. “All people, regardless of their immigration status, should be able to access victim services without fear.” 

A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

payment methods

A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate