Speaking to Congress last night, President Trump highlighted family members of Americans killed by illegal immigrants, seeking to make an emotional appeal to build support for stronger border-control measures, the Washington Post reports. “I have ordered the Department of Homeland Security to create an office to serve American victims,” Trump said. “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 met in the Oval Office before his prime-time address with Jamiel Shaw Sr., whose son was shot by a gang member in Los Angeles in 2008, and Jessica Davis and Susan Oliver, who were married to California police officers killed in the line of duty in 2014. All three were guests in the presidential box in the House chamber, as Trump aimed to make a pointed message about the costs of illegal immigration.
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. Trump’s spotlight on the victims’ families has prompted an outcry among those who charge the president is exaggerating the risks to make his proposals more politically expedient. Studies have shown that immigrants, including the estimated 11 million living here illegally, have lower crime rates than the native-born population. On the campaign trail, Trump said he would seek to quickly deport between 2 million and 3 million immigrants with criminal records. A study by the Migration Policy Institute found that 820,000 unauthorized immigrants had committed other crimes, including about 300,000 with felony records.