Whose VOICE?

When Trump announced that he’d created an office called ‘VOICE’, you might presume he’d created a space for the ignored voices of America. It’s Donald Trump, so VOICE wasn’t going to be a space for transgender teenagers or a place for people with a hidden disability. Perhaps it could be a place for the voices of rural American farmers struggling to make a living, or the voices of the jobless folk from the Rust Belt whom Donald Trump claimed he was voicing the opinion of up for during his campaign.

No – VOICE stands for the ‘Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement Office’, a place for Americans who have had crimes committed against them by illegal immigrants to receive information about the immigration status, custody status and any necessary information that the victims may ask for. According to Trump, VOICE gives an outlet to those who are ignored by the ‘media’ and ‘special interest’ groups. VOICE is part of a bigger executive order which aims to crack down on illegal immigrants. ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) have been ordered to hire an extra 10,000 agents to round up all of these ‘terrible’ illegal aliens, especially those involved with ‘drug trafficking’ and ‘gang crime’. Once imprisoned, illegal immigrants will have all privacy rights stripped from them; hence why VOICE can go ahead. The wording of the bill connotes a narrative which assumes that, since illegal immigrants are illegal, they are inherently criminals because they have snuck into the country or outstayed their visa. You can hear Trump saying “of course they’re criminals! They’re terrible people! Terrible!” VOICE makes criminality synonymous with immigrants and immigration, however, there has been lazy misreporting of the exact details of what VOICE is; the ‘I’ in VOICE stands for immigrants, but there is no delineation that the office is only concerned with illegal immigrants. Many news outlets on the left have implied that VOICE is a place where the crimes of all immigrants will be reported in some Nazi-esque name and shame list. This is not the overt nature of VOICE, but it is definitely the underlying tone. Illegal or not, VOICE singles out a group and insinuates that there is an inextricable link between immigrants and criminal tendencies.

Yes there are victims of crimes that have been committed by illegal immigrants, but there is no proof that this group commits more crime than American-born citizens.

Bernie Sanders took to Twitter claiming that the VOICE was “fearmongering” and drew attention to a report of a white American open-firing on two Indian nationals in Kansas. The man shouted “Get out of my country!”, before killing one of the men and severely injuring another, as well as a bystander who tried to help. The President has not mentioned the attack, which took place on February 22nd. Would he have spoken about it if the Indian nationals had shot the white American citizen?

Trump is good at this. He distracts the public by emphasising the victimisation of America and Americans at the hands of foreigners, whether that be China stealing jobs, foreign terrorists or immigrants committing crime. Trump draws on the victimhood of America to emphasise his ability to save it. Trump is a hero, giving a VOICE to the unheard. All this comes at a time when a fourth mosque has burnt down in the last four months – where is the VOICE for these victims? Where is Trump’s condolence, or his condemnation of the attack? He has finally condemned the attacks on Jewish community centres; when will he condemn attacks on Mosques and immigrants and give these groups a voice?

Bethany Donkin

(Image courtesy of CNN)


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