The President’s speech last night contained much which drew cheers from plenty of people (except the usual list of suspects who would complain about him brushing his teeth) and set a generally positive tone. Buried among the frequently rousing and positive message points and calls to action were a few new, or at least revised proposals. One of them which drew significant applause caught my attention in a worrisome fashion however. It was the moment when Trump announced his plans to create a new office in the Department of Homeland Security dedicated specifically to helping the victims of crimes committed by illegal immigrants. (Washington Post)
Trump was joined several times on the campaign trail by family members of victims of crimes committed by illegal immigrants, including so-called “angel moms,” whose children had been killed. As president, Trump has pledged to raise their profiles, and the new DHS guidelines issued last week included a provision to create a new office to support such victims and their families.
“I have ordered the Department of Homeland Security to create an office to serve American victims,” Trump said in his speech to Congress. “The office is called VOICE –- Victims Of Immigration Crime Engagement. We are providing a voice to those who have been ignored by our media, and silenced by special interests.”
Trump’s spotlight on the victims’ families has sparked an outcry among those who charge the president is exaggerating the risks to sow public fear to make his proposals more politically expedient.
It’s easy to see why this would be one of the feel-good moments of the speech. Conservatives have long sought to draw attention to the many problems caused by illegal immigration, particularly in terms of crimes committed by illegal aliens and their impact on American citizens. Unfortunately, this well-meaning and popular idea is problematic at best.
I hate to be the one to throw cold water over a rousing talking point, but setting up a new executive branch entity such as the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement office is an idea which is as flawed as the entire idea of “hate crimes.” While these two concepts may not immediately appear to be related, they are actually quite similar. I have long made two specific arguments against the constitutionality and necessity of having so-called “hate crime” laws. The first is the obvious and problematic theory of legislating thought crimes, but the second deals with the more fundamental issue of equal enforcement under the law. The classic example would be the case of two people who are murdered. If a group of criminals kills one person because the victim is black or gay or Jewish and a second gang murders another person because they want to steal his valuables, both victims are equally dead. The families of the deceased deserve the same ration of justice, including having equal resources expended on apprehending the killers and equal punishment handed down upon conviction.
There’s really nothing different between that hypothetical scenario and cases involving illegal immigrants. When unauthorized aliens enter our country and victimize citizens it doesn’t really matter what the specifics of the crime are. Victims are still victims and are entitled to the same recourse to law enforcement resources and the power of the courts, no matter where the assailant hails from. You see, this isn’t a question of who committed the crime so much as the fact that a crime was committed and justice needs to be served. By creating an additional office with specific resources dedicated to only those who are victims of the same crimes committed against many Americans but perpetrated by a particular subset of criminals we are providing unequal enforcement of the law.
Again, I understand that this position is not going to be popular. Crimes committed by those who should never have been in our country in the first place and all too often have already been deported on many occasions enrage us for good reason. But our anger is misdirected when we fail to place the blame where it belongs, which is on the shoulders of those who failed to keep the illegal aliens out of the country in the first place. Once they are here and the deed is done, their victims are all American citizens, equal in the eyes of the law.