Speed Reads

that's not how it works

People are dialing Trump's illegal immigrant crime call center for all the wrong reasons

President Trump's Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) program is a call center run by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE). In theory, it serves a single purpose: If you or a loved one have been affected by a crime committed by someone who was in the U.S. illegally, you can call the hotline for an update on their immigration status.

In practice, as revealed in the agency's first quarterly report, published nearly five quarters after the hotline's creation, people are mostly calling VOICE for other reasons. Of about 4,600 calls accepted by VOICE between April 26 and September 30, 2017, more than 2,500 were "commentary or unrelated" topics, like UFO sightings, alleged vegetable garden thefts by alleged illegal immigrants, and at least one request for a Trump hotel reservation.

Nearly one quarter of the calls attempted to report a crime (mostly nonviolent, like marriage fraud and forgery), for which callers were referred to ICE's tip line, and an eighth sought general information about VOICE. At the most generous accounting, a mere 12 percent used the line as intended. For this, VOICE has a staff of 34 and an annual budget of $1 million.

VOICE previously came under scrutiny in January, when it was found to have improperly released private and legally protected information by posting online summaries of call logs including names, addresses, and phone numbers of crime victims and immigrants accused of being in the U.S. illegally.