President Donald Trump said he has given orders to create a special office to assist victims of crime by immigrants: “VOICE” – Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement.
The VOICE agency is expected to publish a weekly list of all crimes committed by immigrants, suggesting that anyone who has moved to the US, both documented and undocumented, could find their name on the public list.
Trump announced the initiative on Tuesday during his first speech to Congress, where there were audible groans and sounds of surprise from people in the audience when he said the name of the new office.
Trump said the US must support law enforcement and support the victims of crime, adding that the new office will provide a voice to people ignored by the media and “silenced by special interests”.
Trump paid tribute to four guests in the audience, who, he said, had lost loved ones in violent crimes committed by immigrants living in the country illegally.
Trump also suggested a new merit-based system to regulate entry to the United States, as he tried to square his campaign rhetoric with the goal of broad immigration reform.
Addressing Congress, Trump stood by his plan to subject travellers from several mainly-Muslim countries deemed a risk to extreme vetting, insisting: “We cannot allow a beachhead of terrorism to form inside America.”
But – alongside this promise of “strong measures to protect our nation from radical Islamic terrorism” – he held out the prospect of a merit-based immigration system that might win cross-party support.
Arguing that mass immigration by unskilled workers costs the US taxpayer billions of dollars and depresses the wages and job opportunities of the working poor, Trump urged lawmakers to get behind reform.
“If we are guided by the well-being of American citizens then I believe Republicans and Democrats can work together to achieve an outcome that has eluded our country for decades,” he argued.
A merit-based system – such as those in use in Canada and Australia – would, he argued “save countless dollars, raise workers’ wages, and help struggling families – including immigrant families – enter the middle class.”