Trump created the Victim Of Immigration Crime Engagement Office, known by its acronym VOICE, by executive order during his first week in office in January 2017.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it was replacing VOICE with a “more comprehensive and inclusive victim support system.”
VOICE will be replaced by The Victims Engagement and Services Line, which will combine longstanding existing services, such as methods for people to report abuse and mistreatment in immigration detention centers and a notification system for lawyers and others with a vested interest in immigration cases.
The new office will add a service for potential recipients of visas designated for victims of human trafficking or violent crimes in the United States.
“Providing assistance to society’s most vulnerable is a core American value. All people, regardless of their immigration status, should be able to access victim services without fear,” said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
Stephen Miller, a key architect of Trump’s immigration policies, called the decision to close VOICE a “moral stain on the conscience of our nation.”
He likened the new office to the Drug Enforcement Administration opening “a call center to help drug dealers get lawyers and amnesty for their crimes.”
The Department of Homeland Security “is a law enforcement agency, not a legal help center for criminals and lawbreakers,” Miller said.
The change of tone regarding immigration has been striking between the two administrations.
“I’ve had to hold the hand of too many mothers who lost a child to a DUI or somebody else who’s been raped by an illegal alien or someone with a nexus to immigration,” Barbara Gonzalez, the then-director of VOICE, told reporters in October 2019. “It is a problem we cannot ignore as a country.
In April, the Biden administration ordered U.S. officials to avoid using terms like “illegal alien” and instead use the phrase “undocumented noncitizen.”
Adapted from reporting by Associated Press.