President Donald Trump proclaimed last week, April 2 to April 8, to be National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.
“During National Crime Victims' Rights Week, we stand with crime victims and their families, we renew our commitment to safeguarding our communities from crime and we recognize those who devote their lives to supporting and empowering victims and survivors,” Trump said in a statement released April 3.
In the statement, Trump introduced a new office within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) specifically concerning assistance for victims of crimes committed by immigrants.
“The Victims Of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE), within the Department of Homeland Security, will work to serve the victims of open borders policies — which will no longer form the basis of our immigration system,” he said. “These victims will not be ignored by the media or silenced by special interests any longer.”
Gov. Roy Cooper also released a statement supporting Trump’s appointment of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. Cooper’s statement did not mention immigration crime or VOICE.
“National Crime Victims’ Rights Week — April 2-8, 2017 — provides an opportunity for our country to recognize the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) as a major bedrock of support for victim services, and to reaffirm our state and nation’s commitment to addressing the needs of victims of crimes,” Cooper said in the statement.
Jacob Smith, a doctoral candidate in the department of political science at UNC, said immigration crime is an issue where Trump’s facts tend not to support what’s been a part of the rhetoric so far.
“Statistics show that immigrants commit less crime than do native-born Americans,” Smith said.
In January, Trump signed an executive order for the Department of Homeland Security to release weekly lists of crimes committed by immigrants called Declined Detainer Outcome Reports.
“Often times you'll see on either the national level or the state level sort of a push back against this —trying to withhold funds from municipalities that have policies to protect undocumented immigrants,” Smith said. “So that's something that has happened before but definitely has been a focus of the Trump administration.”
Immigration and Customs Enforcement often asks local law enforcement to hold a crime suspect who may be an undocumented immigrant for 48 hours to allow time for ICE to take the accused into custody.
Local governments that don’t cooperate with federal ICE policies like these, such as self-proclaimed sanctuary cities, will be included in the DHS’ weekly lists. This order pressures these municipalities to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
Smith said the impact of immigrant crime in the United States isn’t as serious as Trump is making it seem.
“If you look at statistics it's not necessarily as dire a situation than people perhaps believe," he said.
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