Photo: Natacha Pisarenko/AP Photo

The U.S. federal hotline for reporting criminal activity by illegal immigrants is plagued by calls about UFOs and other unrelated topics.

This story originally appeared in The Lowdown, ABP’s weekly roundup of news, culture, holy-shit awesomeness, event updates & exclusive offers delivered straight to your inbox. Click here to subscribe.


Last year the federal government launched VOICE, Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement, a call center run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to take tips, information and complaints on immigrants in the country illegally.

Nevermind the rhetoric and political manipulation, the preponderance of research demonstrates immigrants are less likely to commit a crime than native-born United States residents. A recent Cato Institute report found immigrants in the country illegally were 25 percent less likely to be convicted of homicide than the native-born population, and also had lower conviction rates for sexual assault and larceny. The safest place to live? In a neighborhood with a ton of immigrants with legal status—a population that is 87 percent less likely to be convicted of murder than native-born residents. Contrary to common perceptions that illegal immigration boosts crime, a new study in the journal Criminology found an influx of immigrants living illegally in a community actually led to a decrease in violent crime in that neighborhood.

Not to be deterred by data, the government set aside an annual budget of $1 million and 34 staff members and launched the VOICE hotline on April 26, 2017. In June, more than a year after the system launched, ICE released the first quarterly report.

A mere 12 percent of calls to the hotline were for the original intended purpose, actually reporting a crime committed by someone in the country illegally or requesting the custody status of an alleged criminal immigrant. Out of roughly 4,600 calls taken by VOICE between April 26 and September 30, 2017, more than 2,500 were labeled as “commentary or unrelated” topics.

When the program first launched it was plagued by people calling in to report sightings of UFOs or aliens. The center has also taken a call from someone looking to book a room at a Trump Hotel, a report on a vegetable garden theft and a complaint against Melania Trump, in addition to logging hundreds of calls airing personal vendettas against ex-spouses, neighbors and business rivals.

The agency has also struggled to keep the information it is collecting secure, accidentally posting unredacted call logs online in October with sensitive personal information of both the callers and the alleged illegal immigrants they were reporting, including names, phone numbers, social security numbers and addresses. Months later they messed up again, releasing a slate of private information along with a FOIA request for call data. ICE has offered victims of their gaffe identity theft protection.

The upshot? At least all those people who have been probed by aliens can now find each other and form a support group.