WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump used his joint address to Congress on Tuesday to call attention to crimes committed by undocumented immigrants — inviting guests affected by such crimes and describing a new office he has ordered created to report them.
Trump invited three guests whose family members were allegedly killed by criminals living in the US illegally, acknowledging them individually as he described his recently ordered crime reporting initiative.
As mandated by Trump’s executive order signed last month, the Department of Homeland Security announced in implementation guidance issued last week that it would create the Victims Of Immigration Crime Engagement office, or VOICE.
“I have ordered the Department of Homeland Security to create an office to serve American victims,” Trump said Tuesday night. “We are providing a voice to those who have been ignored by our media, and silenced by special interests.”
The line elicited some audible groans from Democrats in the chamber.
To make his point, Trump in his speech recognized Jamiel Shaw, Susan Oliver, her daughter, Jenna Oliver, and Jessica Davis.
Shaw’s teen son, Jamiel Shaw Jr., was murdered by a gang member living in the US illegally.
Susan Oliver and Davis’ husbands were Deputy Sheriff Danny Oliver and Detective Michael Davis, who were killed in the line of duty in California. An undocumented immigrant is charged with their murders.
“To Jamiel, Jenna, Susan and Jessica: I want you to know — we will never stop fighting for justice,” Trump said. “Your loved ones will never be forgotten, we will always honor their memory.”
In establishing the office as called for in Trump’s January 25 executive order, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly ordered the reallocation of any DHS resources currently going toward advocating for undocumented immigrants that can be re-routed to fund the office.
VOICE’s job will be to work with victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants.
Trump called in his order for the office to issue reports once a quarter “studying the effects of the victimization by criminal aliens present in the United States.”
Along with a similar provision in the executive order requiring weekly reports about crimes committed by undocumented immigrants designed to name and shame sanctuary cities, critics fear the measures are designed to skew public opinion unfavorably toward immigrants. Studies conducted by organizations that support pro-immigration policies have found that immigrants commit crimes at a lower rate than the general public, findings that supporters of hardline immigration policies say don’t matter.
“The obvious intent of a provision like that is to provide a misleading view of what sanctuary jurisdictions are really doing,” Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, told CNN in January.
“The point is that every crime that is committed by someone who is here illegally is a crime that would not occur if they weren’t in the country,” said Hans von Spakovsky, a legal expert at the conservative Heritage Foundation.