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President Donald Trump addresses a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Critics say Trump's plan to publicize illegal immigrants' crimes amounts to 'scapegoating'

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President Trump announced plans to create a new federal agency, the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) office, during his address to Congress on Tuesday. The agency will highlight and publish crimes committed by immigrants.

Critics say the agency and other Trump attempts to bring immigrants' crime to light amount to "scapegoating," since data shows immigrants are far less likely to commit crime than native-born Americans, according to Business Insider. Supporters argue it brings a topic stifled by the media out in the open.

You can find crimes committed by any group ... To choose one and blame them for crime in general is just very disingenuous.
Walter Ewing, American Immigration Council

Trump had four guests at his joint address to Congress who had family members killed by undocumented immigrants. He said he would "never stop fighting for justice" for those people.

A Homeland Security memo detailed plans to create an agency to act as a liaison between Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants.

Trump supporters hailed the move.

"What President Trump did, and other candidate on either side has acknowledged, is the tragic effects of illegal immigration," Maria Espinoza told The Washington Times. Espinoza runs the Remembrance Project, a network of families of people killed by undocumented aliens.

However, a 2015 report by the American Immigration Council found that violent crime among immigrants has dropped dramatically over the last 25 years, despite the immigrant population increasing five percent. 

A Pew Research Center study from 2013 found first-generation immigrants are almost 10 percent less likely to commit crimes than native-born. Second-generation immigrants' crime rate is higher than the first generation, but still below native-borns.

Walter Ewing, senior researcher for the American Immigration Council, argued that Trump drawing a connection immigrants and crime could "embolden" anti-immigration groups to target immigrants.

For context, a shooting in Kansas has drawn national attention for its ties to the immigration debate. The shooter reportedly asked two Indian men about their visas and legal status. He later shot both men, killing one.

Democrats like Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) decried the VOICE agency.

But Trump supporters hailed it as a potentially life-saving measure.

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