Since taking office in early January, President Donald Trump has done nothing but instill fear in the undocumented community. And with the introduction of Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) – a new Department of Homeland Security agency – the Trump Administration has once again tried to scapegoat this group and made it even harder for them to live peacefully as deportations ramp up. Additionally, because VOICE includes a hotline – where people can call in and report how they’ve been victimized by undocumented immigrants – many argue that this invites individuals to racially profile people of color.
The launch of VOICE coincided with #AlienDay – a day honoring James Cameron’s 1986 Aliens . And as soon as the internet realized, the hotline became inundated with complaints about Superman, ET, and other “illegal aliens,” BuzzFeed reports. Those who participated either saw a way to stick it to the agency – staffed by about 21 community relations officers and 27 specialists in victim assistance – but others just like a good old-fashioned troll session.
Wouldn't it be a shame if millions of people called this hotline to report their encounters with aliens of the UFO-variety. https://t.co/Cl048Gihnk
— Alexander McCoy (@AlexanderMcCoy4) April 26, 2017
If any of you need to report space aliens to our government, please call their hotline: 1-855-48-VOICE. Here are some of their Most Wanted: pic.twitter.com/nWnVYdDdpG
— Steven Santos (@stevensantos) April 27, 2017
In case you want to share your X-Files fan fiction with DHS…
— Parker Molloy (@ParkerMolloy) April 27, 2017
Either way, it seems the calls disrupted VOICE. In an interview with Fusion, the group wouldn’t say how many people called in, but showed it was obviously bothered. “I hope you won’t dignify this group with the attention they are seeking,” an ICE official said. “But if you choose to do… this group’s cheap publicity stunt is beyond the pale of legitimate public discourse. Their actions seek to obstruct and do harm to crime victims; that’s objectively despicable regardless of one’s views on immigration policy… Further, openly obstructing and mocking victims crosses the line of legitimate public discourse. VOICE is a line for victims to obtain information. This group’s stunt is designed to harm victims. That is shameful.”
And though the hotline isn’t intended as a tip line for crimes, it further vilifies undocumented immigrants. Throughout his campaign, Trump invoked the death of Kathryn Steinle to prove that protecting the undocumented community meant an increase in crime. In 2015, a Mexican national with a criminal record allegedly shot Steinle in San Francisco’s The Embarcadero. Before Steinle’s tragic death, he had a 20-year-old drug charge. But because a judge threw the case out, he could walk free, even though immigration officials sought him. Trump and others on the right have continued to use this case – and other similar ones – to denounce this community, but the truth is, immigrants are much less likely to commit crimes than those born in the United States.