During his address this week, President Trump discussed his Jan. 25th executive order to create an office called Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement or VOICE within the Department of Homeland Security, with the express purpose of “making public a comprehensive list of criminal actions committed by aliens.” You should note there’s no requirement that these “aliens” are in the country illegally.

This strange order passed more or less unnoticed amid the chaotic first weeks of the new administration, but it’s perhaps even more disturbing than the more dramatic travel ban and equally irrational. Neither of these highly infammatory anti-immigrant edicts address real security issues. Instead they serve the sole purpose of portraying immigrants as dangerous and threatening.

The facts do not bear that out. Research shows that immigrants commit crimes at a lower rate than native-born Americans and breaking the law to enter the country illegally does not predispose one to commit other crimes. The sole purpose of publishing a list of crimes committed by “aliens” is to stigmatize the immigrant population, a tried and true method of inciting bigotry and contempt for a specific group of people.

If this new administration hopes to unify the country, as they have said repeatedly, they would be better served to highlight the countless stories of immigrants whose contributions have made America the envy of so many across the globe. These are far more accurate portrayals of the immigrant than the criminals which VOICE intends to highlight. At the Immigrant Archive Project, we have made the accurate portrayals of immigrants in America our sole mission. Since our launch in 2008, we have documented and archived the stories of over 1,000 immigrants of all nations. These are the real stories of men, women and children who have sacrificed tremendously to become American by choice.

We could all stand to learn a lesson on hard work and true grit from the likes of Ralph de la Vega, an unaccompanied child immigrant who arrived in the US without a dime in his pocket and became the CEO of AT&T Mobility.

 

Our president should proudly share the story of Gabby Pacheco, a DREAMER who beat the odds by becoming the first in her family to graduate college and is now a voice for the hundreds of thousands of children who were brought to this country by their undocumented parents.

Our society would be well served to learn a lesson on compassion and empathy, by listening to Mario Gamboa. Mr. Gamboa is an immigrant who organized a group to teach members of his community to read and write. To date they have taught thousands of immigrants.

Immigrants have far more in common with these three than with the perpetrators of violent crimes which VOICE will promote. While we stand in defense of victims of all crime, we cannot stand idly by as immigrants in America are unfairly depicted. We must push back against the xenophobic rhetoric with facts and real immigrant stories. We are a proud nation of immigrants and we must continue to live up to our values.

Please consider helping us by sharing our stories on your social media pages, contributing to our initiative and by getting your brands involved with the work of the Immigrant Archive Project. For detailed information, please contact us at [email protected]com

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