April 27 (UPI) — Pranksters are jamming a U.S. Immigration and Customers Enforcement hotline to report victims of illegal aliens — the UFO kind.
The Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement Office program, or VOICE, was created Wednesday in response to a presidential executive order on Jan. 25 called “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States”. A special hotline was set up to “acknowledge and serve the needs of crime victims and their families who have been impacted by crimes committed by removable criminal aliens,” according to its website.
But critics mocked the initiative, which controversially announced by Trump during his address to Congress in February, via a campaign on Twitter with the hashtag #AlienDay. People were urged to call the VOICE number to report alien takeovers and encounters with space creatures.
ICE spokesman Bryan Cox confirmed to NBC News on Thursday that the office received alien-related prank calls and said more operators will be added if long wait times continue.
“The VOICE line remains in operation,” Cox said Thursday. “As yesterday was its first day, I can’t give you any sense of whether this group had any impact at all on wait times or call volume, because there’s no prior data to compare.”
Alex McCoy, 28, told NBC News he spread the idea on social media with a post on Twitter: “Wouldn’t it be a shame if millions of people called this hotline to report their encounters with aliens of the UFO-variety.”
“I thought this was a chance to push back on how Trump has demonized the immigrant community. [The idea] really took off.”
“When Trump attacks the immigrant community, he’s attacking all of us,” McCoy said. “Victims already have resources. It’s not about victims. It’s about spinning a political narrative.”
McCoy, who said it took more than 20 minutes to reach someone on the hotline, wants to disband the office entirely.
“[Homeland Security] Secretary [John] Kelly made clear in his announcement Wednesday that this phone line is to be dedicated for the use of victims seeking information and resources,” an ICE official told Fox News. “There are certainly more constructive ways to make one’s opinions heard than to prevent legitimate victims of crime from receiving the information and resources they seek because the lines are tied up by hoax callers.”
On Wednesday, Kelly said the program will focus on a “victim-centered approach” by providing custody status, release dates and other information to victims, witnesses and their representatives.
“All crime is terrible, but these victims are unique — and too often ignored,” Kelly said in announcing announcing VOICE.