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Lory D. Rosenberg on Appeal Matters

Why President Trump's VOICE is Misplaced and Serves No One

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The VOICE office announced by President Trump in his SOTU speech on Tuesday night is the most disturbing, offensive, and misplaced priority he could have chosen to address the pressing need for immigration reform.

Moreover, it astonishes me how anyone with an understanding of the reality of the overwhelmingly positive immigrant contributions to our workforce, our communities, and our society as a whole could applaud such folly. It is mind-boggling that a person who purports to understand immigration law can honestly praise its introduction. Cf. N. Rappoport, Opinion Contributor, The Hill, “On immigrant crime, Trump's right. Americans deserve more data” (3/1/17).

Establishment of such a new office panders to unsubstantiated, and in fact, soundly refuted, fears of an immigrant crime wave, and fosters public hysteria that is utterly unfounded. Are there serious crimes committed by immigrants? Yes, although very few are violent offenses. They generally involve violations of state, not federal, law, and they are duly prosecuted and punished in our courts, without regard to the perpetrator’s immigration status. Any claimed value to the victim in connecting ICE to removable aliens for “information” is pure fantasy.

Moreover, proportionately, the immigrant crime rate is minimal compared to the crimes committed by the native population in the United States. See Ewing, W and Rumbaut, R., SPECIAL REPORT The Criminalization of Immigration in the United States, http://www.americanimmigration council.org/research/criminalization-immigration-united-states. A federal program for victims of crime committed by an immigrant as opposed to a United States citizen, erroneously propagates the destructive misconception that immigrants are mostly criminals. Cf. Spenkuch, Jörg L., Understanding the Impact of Immigration on Crime, 16 American Law and Economics Review 1,177-219 (2014),
https://doi.org/10.1093/aler/aht017.

As leading scholar on immigrants and crime, Professor Ruben G. Rumbaut
has stated,

"It [the VOICE office] will serve further to drive up fear and to sigmatize entire immigrant populations as criminals, using rare anecdotes to publicize misleading claims, even though every research study over many decades shows exactly the opposite: immigrants, including the undocumented, have the lowest crime (both violent and property crimes) and the lowest incarceration rates in the US."

What is more, the policy changes anticipated since President Trump’s inauguration may dismantle much needed agency resources that support implementation of critical humanitarian and domestic violence efforts, such as VAWA and other critical programs that have been part of DHS's portfolio. Those are the most important victim support resources that are needed. Information collection and communication can be achieved easily and made available to victims, policymakers, and scholars alike through accurate agency reporting.

There are more than adequate local police programs, as well as private and faith-based programs, available to victims of all crime in their communities. That is where victims will find the information and restitution they may seek. One would think an administration that seeks to reduce the the federal bureaucracy and rely upon the states to address all but those problems that demand federal intervention would shrink from imposing a duplicative and unnecessary venture that is likely to offer little more than one night of celebrity in a television audience.

Trump’s self-indulgent VOICE office paints a target on the backs of honorable, hard-working immigrants - and others who look like immigrants - in our population. He may derive satisfaction from the publicity of such a pointless gesture, but the office’s establishment does nothing to reform a deeply broken system that victimizes immigrants and citizens alike each day that nothing is done to reform it.

c.2017 Lory D. Rosenberg

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