People have been prank-calling Trump's anti-immigrant hotline in glorious ways.

Apparently, the first day of Donald Trump’s new immigrant crime hotline went amazingly — just not in the way the Trump administration had probably hoped.

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

The Victims of Immigrant Crime Engagement Office (VOICE), established to assist victims of crimes committed by "removable criminal aliens," was reportedly prank-called all day by protesters claiming to have been abused by E.T., Jabba the Hutt, and other notorious creatures from outer space.

The trend was first noticed by Robbie Gramer, a writer for Foreign Policy.  


An Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson told BuzzFeed that the hotline was "tied up" throughout the day by the protesters.

Alexander McCoy, a Marine Corps veteran and progressive activist, claims to have kicked off the tongue-in-cheek protest with a tweet Wednesday afternoon.

"I swore an oath to defend my community and uphold the Constitution," McCoy says. "I see speaking out as a way of continuing to fulfill my oath and standing behind the immigrant community that is under attack."

McCoy, who explains that he finds the term "aliens" intentionally dehumanizing, called the hotline and — after waiting on hold for 20 minutes — was asked if he was calling to report a crime by an "illegal alien."

He told the operator that he'd been abducted and taken to a UFO.

"I heard them give a long sigh," he says. "And they closed out the conversation saying that they'd make a note of it."

Critics of VOICE allege that it unfairly demonizes immigrants — singling them out for suspicion based on their status.

The office was announced during Trump's Feb. 2017 address to Congress during a tribute to four guests whose family members were killed by undocumented immigrants.

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

Two recent studies conducted by The Sentencing Project, a criminal justice reform organization, and the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, found that immigrants — whether documented or undocumented — commit crimes at lower rates than native-born residents.

An ICE official told Upworthy that the VOICE office is intended to provide information to crime victims and does not receive crime reports, and also that he considers the protest a "shameful" stunt at victims' expense.

After McCoy's tweet went mini-viral, other prank-tivists began calling in, adding their own spin.  

Michigan resident Lisa Polmanteer used her time on the phone with a VOICE representative to troll Melania Trump — claiming to have been "victimized" by an immigrant living off her tax dollars in New York City.

According to Polmanteer, the operator asked if she was talking about the first lady. When she said yes, he hung up.

Others on Twitter suggested an entirely different, punny approach.

While the prank was undoubtedly silly, its message was incredibly serious.

"I feel like the administration is going to use these stories to further demonize immigrants [and] refugees," Polmanteer says. "My grandparents were immigrants. I take it personally, I guess."

McCoy hopes the protest will move participants to support the efforts of immigrant rights groups, like United We Dream, Presente, Mijente, and the DRM Action Coalition, who have been, as he says, "fighting this fight much longer than I have."

He also hopes people will continue to take action against attempts to stigmatize those who come to the U.S. seeking a better life.

For now, that means fighting efforts like VOICE — even if it means being a little annoying.

Or especially if it means being a little annoying.

"I feel like the only thing I can do about it is be disruptive." Polmanteer says. [I'm] feeling pretty overwhelmed and powerless, you know? So I'm a jerk wherever I can be."

Photo by Frederic J. Brown/Getty Images.

This post was updated with comments from ICE.

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Anne Hebert, a marketing writer living in Austin, TX, jokes that her closest friends think that her hobby is "low-key harassment for social good". She authors a website devoted entirely to People Doing Good Things. She's hosted a yearly canned food drive with up to 150 people stopping by to donate, resulting in hundreds of pounds of donations to take to the food bank for the past decade.

"I try to share info in a positive way that gives people hope and makes them aware of solutions or things they can do to try to make the world a little better," she said.

For now, she's encouraging people through a barrage of persistent, informative, and entertaining emails with one goal in mind: getting people to VOTE. The thing about emailing people and talking about politics, according to Hebert, is to catch their attention—which is how lice got involved.

"When my kids were in elementary school, I was class parent for a year, which meant I had to send the emails to the other parents. As I've learned over the years, a good intro will trick your audience into reading the rest of the email. In fact, another parent told me that my emails always stood out, especially the one that started: 'We need volunteers for the Valentine's Party...oh, and LICE.'"

Hebert isn't working with a specific organization. She is simply trying to motivate others to find ways to plug in to help get out the vote.

Photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash

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