Trump's Immigration Crime Hotline Is Helping Snitches Get Stitches
One of the more outlandish things anti-immigration weirdos insist upon is the idea that undocumented immigrants are going around committing all the crimes. While this is not actually true, it is something they hold dear to their hearts as a large part of the rationale for building their special wall and also somehow immediately deporting over 10 million people out of the country.
This past April, the Trump administration launched the VOICE (Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement) hotline, so concerned citizens could report all of the crimes undocumented immigrants were doing to them that the police were ignoring.
ICE's website for the VOICE hotline lists these as the primary objectives for the program:
1. Use a victim-centered approach to acknowledge and support immigration crime victims and their families.
2. Promote awareness of rights and services available to immigration crime victims.
3. Build collaborative partnerships with community stakeholders assisting immigration crime victims.
4. Provide quarterly reports studying the effects of the victimization by criminal aliens present in the United States.
That last one, obviously, is meant to help allow the Trump administration to push its dangerous and cruel anti-immigrant policies as a means to protect human rights.
"With honor and integrity, we will support victims of crimes committed by criminal aliens through access to information and resources" reads the official mission statement of the VOICE hotline.
Unfortunately, things did not quite work out that way. For anyone involved.
A Splinter investigation into the hotline reveals that the vast majority of reports to the hotline are people reporting not on actual crimes, but on family members and neighbors and random neighbors they merely suspect of being undocumented immigrants.
Like this guy who was pretty sure his neighbor was here illegally:
Caller wanted to report his next door neighbor. Caller claims his next door neighbors are undocumented and are from South America. Caller claims two boys ages 14 and 15 reside there along with an adult male. Caller provided his next door neighbor’s address as [street and number redacted by Splinter], St. Augustine, FL [ZIP code redacted by Splinter].
Or like this guy who wanted to report his step-son for parking by his house:
Caller stated the illegal alien (step-son) is a drug addict, unemployed, homeless and living in his car that he parks at [address redacted by Splinter]. Caller stated the subject is a danger to society and wants to know why he was not taken into ICE custody. Caller stated the subject recently missing his court hearing [number and date redacted by Splinter] and is now in probation violation. Caller provided A number, name [redacted by Splinter], DOB, and COB. Caller stated he does not want his wife to know and prefers not to be reached at his cell number [redacted by Splinter] that he shares with her.
Or these other people ratting on their family members and people they know and have vendettas against:
-Caller requested to report her mother-in law and sister-in law. Caller stated these individuals came to the U.S. as tourists and stayed in the U.S. in order to get legal status.
-Caller stated the undocumented individual is destroying her family and is committing adultery.
-Caller requested to report his ex wife that is undocumented as an overstayed on her visa.
-Caller requested to report the illegal alien because the illegal alien will not let her see [her] granddaughter.
Now, it's hardly surprising that Gladys Kravitzes around the country are trying to use this hotline to rat out their ex-wives and in-laws and neighbors they're mad at. After all, this is America. But as it turns out, those people are not the only ones being put in danger by this hotline -- the callers themselves are also being exposed.
When Googling some of the information ICE provided in a FOIA request for these call logs, Splinter discovered there was a second spreadsheet that was online and hosted on the ICE website.
As it turns out, these call logs are publicly accessible and searchable -- and they include data like the names, telephone numbers and Social Security numbers of those doing the reporting, meaning those reporting legitimate crimes could be handily discovered by those they're reporting, which could absolutely put them in danger:
Some people on the spreadsheet said they had gotten callbacks from ICE. A California woman who asked to remain anonymous contacted the hotline after she said her undocumented Mexican husband sexually molested her 11-year-old daughter. She told Splinter that ICE has contacted her via email about her call, but she said she did not understand how her phone number and police report information were published online. “That’s news to me, they sure didn’t tell me that,” she said. “They told me it was private.” Her husband’s name and work address were also published, and she said she worries for her safety if he finds out that she filed a report with ICE.
That is legitimately dangerous. Anyone can go and find the people who are making these reports, where they live, where they work, what their phone numbers are -- and most of them likely have no idea this information is publicly available and searchable on Google. Say that lady's child molester husband Googles his name, discovers she reported him and decides to enact some kind of vengeance against her, all because ICE was stupid enough to post her information online.
Hell, even if something happened to those ratting out their probably-not-even-undocumented neighbors, that would also be bad. Because even if they are bad people themselves, they don't deserve to die.
This hotline was a bad idea from the get, and it's an even worse idea in execution. People are turning on their family members and neighbors, using it to enact vendettas that have nothing to do with "crime," and it's also putting those who are legitimate victims of crime in danger. Maybe they should rethink this whole thing, but probably they will not.
Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. In addition to her work at Wonkette, she also has a biweekly column at Dame. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse