Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testifies at a Homeland Security Subcommittee hearing on May 26. He announced a new phone line and office for victims of immigrant crimes. Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI | License Photo
June 12 (UPI) -- The Biden administration said Friday it was ending the Trump-era Victim of Immigration Crime Engagement Office and replacing it with a call line and program it says is more comprehensive in scope.
Critics of the office complained it was used by Trump to push the narrative of an immigrant crime wave in the United States. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas promised last month to retool and refocus the department.
The office is being replaced with the Victims Engagement and Services Line, which will have a wider range of victim support services offered by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
"Providing assistance to society's most vulnerable is a core American value," Mayorkas said in a statement. "All people, regardless of their immigration status, should be able to access victim services without fear. This administration is committed to providing a reliable source of information and guidance for all victims irrespective of their status."
Callers to the new victim engagement line will be provided with options including ICE's longstanding Detention Reporting and Information Line, Victim Information and NotificationExchange and Victim Notification System Access, and Victim Assistance Support.
The administration said callers will also be provided information on ICE field office locations, and referred to the Executive Office for Immigration Review.
"As a federal law enforcement agency, ICE is committed to serving all victims of crime," Acting ICE Director Tae D. Johnson said in a statement. "Through VESL, ICE is better positioned than ever to uphold this commitment."
Johnson said ICE will never ask those seeking help about their immigration status and will provide the services without regard to a victim's immigration status or the status of their perpetrator.