Natalia Castro
Guest Columnist
President Trump has given victims a voice through VOICE — the Victims of Immigrant Crime Engagement office. This office acts at the Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) first line of defense when an illegal immigrant commits a crime, and allows victims a place to find comfort and recovery. While this step by Trump was important to create an additional means of tracking illegal immigrant crimes, more must be done to prevent them from entering our country in the first place.
President Trump made the creation of VOICE a major component of his immigration agenda since the State of the Union, proclaiming that this office would recognize those silenced by the media and special interest’s groups. Trump placed specific emphasis on those in law enforcement such as Deputy Sheriff Danny Oliver and Detective Michael Davis, who were killed in the line of duty by an illegal immigrant with a criminal record and two deportations.
VOICE, through the office’s hotline, allows victims and their loved ones the opportunity to report crimes and receive custody information on their perpetrators to better understand the unique immigration process. VOICE also connects victims and victim families with local contacts to continue offering support services.
But as seen with the slain members of law enforcement, when an illegal immigrant can easily reenter the country, these great programs do little to actually prevent crime.
The Government Accountability Office reported in 2011 that criminal histories of a quarter million illegal immigrants showed they had committed close to three million criminal offenses. With 68 percent of those in federal prison and 66 percent of those in state prison being from Mexico. Their crimes ranged from homicide and kidnapping to drug possession and larceny.
This problem is not getting better, with the GAO reporting that this is a 35 percent increase in the number of illegal immigrants in state and local prison systems since 2003.
As the Heritage Foundation’s Hans Von Spokovsky explains in the Hill explains, “The issue isn’t non-citizens who are in this country legally, and who must abide by the law to avoid having their visas revoked or their application for citizenship refused. The real issue is the crimes committed by illegal aliens… If there were a way to include all crimes committed by criminal aliens, the numbers would likely be higher since prosecutors often drop criminal charges against an illegal alien if immigration authorities will deport the alien.”
Aside from the domestic safety crisis this causes, these illegal immigrants place a high cost on the country as well.
The Federation for American Immigration Reform reported that the federal government spent $1.5 billion on programs to combat illegal immigrant gun crimes and violent gangs from 2001 to 2007 alone. State and local law enforcements have had an administrative cost burden of $7.8 billion dollars annually in order to service criminal illegal immigrants.
For Americans’ safety and fiscal responsibility, illegal immigrants cannot be able to continue entering this country. With an estimated 80 percent of California’s violent gang members being illegal immigrants from Mexico or Central America, border security must be a priority.
After Trump discussed the necessity to protect victims of illegal immigrant crime, he reminded Americans of his most famous campaign promise at his February address to Congress, “For that reason, we will soon begin the construction of a great, great wall along our southern border. As we speak tonight, we are removing gang members, drug dealers, and criminals that threaten our communities and prey on our very innocent citizens. Bad ones are going out as I speak, and as I promised throughout the campaign.”
And while deportation have increased, only a border wall can actually prevent illegal immigrants from entering the country.
Former Border Patrol deputy chief, Donald Colburn and former acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, David Aguilar both testified to the Senate Homeland Security Committee about their experiences with border walls. According to Fox News, Aguilar called physical barrier an “integral part” of an enforcement system. While Colburn explains that since a fence was put in place in spanning from southwestern Arizona to southeastern California, his patrol sector saw a decrease in “violent border bandits” — gangs who sexually assault, rob, and murder Mexican migrants living near the border-from 200 attacks the year previously to zero.
Building a wall and supporting the border patrol agents whose lives are being places at risk, is integral for the safety of the American people living in border states and across the country.
President Trump has worked hard to keep this promise, now Congress must do the same. The funding for a wall and increased security on our Southern border has already been demanded by the American people and requested by President Trump, now Congress must prove to victims that their voices were actually heard, not just to react to crime but to prevent it.
Natalia Castro is a contributing editor at Americans for Limited Government.