Home U.S. NEWS The Pennsylvania refugee: Why wasn’t he deported?

The Pennsylvania refugee: Why wasn’t he deported?

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The Pennsylvania refugee: Why wasn’t he deported?

According to the Department of Homeland Security, Danelo Souza Cavalcante, a 34-year-old Brazilian citizen, entered the United States illegally at an unknown time and place – without being inspected or approved by a U.S. immigration official.

Some time later, in April 2021, prosecutors said he fatally stabbed his Brazilian girlfriend in front of her children in Pennsylvania and was sentenced to life in prison for murder. It was the second time he was accused of a horrific crime: He fled a murder charge in 2017 in Brazil when he entered the United States, authorities said.

His escape from Pennsylvania’s Chester County Jail on Aug. 31 sparked a colossal search, now in its second week, and a slew of questions about why Cavalcante wasn’t deported after his arrest in the United States – and whether After he was captured, he would remain in a U.S. prison at taxpayer expense.

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The case highlights a problem that has long grappled with the criminal justice system: what happens when crimes are committed by immigrants who are in the country without legal permission and studies show that the likelihood of committing crimes increases , is significantly lower than citizens born in the USA.

Such immigrants, accused of relatively minor crimes, are often sent back to their home countries. But for a variety of reasons, people convicted of serious crimes most often serve their sentences in the United States.

In Cavalcante’s case, lawyers said, the decision on his deportation would most likely have to be postponed until after he has completed his sentence.

Did U.S. law enforcement know that a fugitive from Brazil was in the United States?

Most likely not. There are more than 11 million immigrants living in the United States without permanent residency status. Most of them deliberately remain hidden, avoiding trouble with law enforcement or any contact with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency that identifies and deports people who are in the country illegally.

“ICE primarily comes into contact with undocumented immigrants after they have committed crimes,” said Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy director for the American Immigration Council in Washington.

Cavalcante was wanted in Brazil in connection with the 2017 murder of a man in his small town of Figueiropolis.

Even if Brazil had issued an Interpol notice calling for his arrest, the United States would have had no reason to believe that he was living in the United States.

It was only after his arrest in connection with the murder of his girlfriend in April 2021 that ICE became aware that he was in the country, the agency said in a statement.

Which immigrants are federal authorities targeting for deportation?

Given limited enforcement resources and the large number of immigrants living in the country illegally, the Biden administration has directed federal officials to focus on immigrants who are considered threats to national or public safety or who have recently crossed the border illegally.

In a policy memo to immigration officials two years ago, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas instructed officials to consider other factors when deciding whether to detain immigrants – such as whether they have lived in the United States for many years or whether they are in one are of advanced age or had children born in the USA.

Mayorkas instructed immigration officials to use their discretion in deciding who should be removed from the country.

Officials said a person accused of murder is clearly a priority for prosecution.

What usually happens to arrested immigrants?

When noncitizens are arrested by state or local authorities in connection with criminal activity, ICE typically issues what is known as an immigration detainment—a request in which ICE is notified as early as possible before the person’s release so that the agency can comply the process can begin to deport them.

According to an ICE spokesperson, an ICE detention notice was actually filed against Cavalcante following his arrest.

In fiscal year 2022, ICE issued 78,829 detainers against noncitizens with criminal histories, including 1,751 for homicide offenses; 1,911 for kidnappings; 2,934 for robberies; 8,450 for sex crimes; and 26,186 for assault. (The same person could have been accused of more than one crime.)

Which crimes typically lead to deportation?

A series of laws passed by Congress in the mid-1990s made noncitizens, including lawful permanent residents, deportable for many more types of crimes.

“U.S. immigration law is harsh on people with criminal convictions,” Reichlin-Melnick said. “Most crimes are deportable offenses under U.S. law.”

Immigrants living in the country illegally who committed minor violations, such as driving with a broken taillight, and were booked into a county jail were turned over to ICE and deported.

Immigrants caught driving under the influence of alcohol were expelled from the country. Many immigrants, including green card holders who have lived in the United States most of their lives, have been deported for drug trafficking.

In fiscal year 2022, ICE removed 28,204 people from the United States who had criminal records. A large number of them were deported for immigration-related crimes, such as illegal re-entry into the country, followed by crimes related to illegal substances.

So is the Brazilian refugee likely to be deported? If so, when?

People tried and convicted of a crime in the United States must, with rare exceptions, serve their sentence here.

Because other countries are not required to send people to prison based on U.S. convictions, incarcerating people in the United States ensures that they serve their full sentence.

“If people were deported immediately after their conviction, it could end up being a free pass, and that doesn’t make sense for our justice system,” said Reichlin-Melnick, a former lawyer for immigrants in deportation cases based on criminal convictions.

“Foreign countries have no obligation to imprison people for U.S. crimes,” he said.

Are there exceptions for a case like the one in Pennsylvania?

An exception would be highly unlikely.

“Of course, the question with a life sentence would be, what if we wanted to deport him instead?” said William Stock, a Philadelphia immigration attorney.

There is a provision in immigration law that allows a state to require a person to be deported instead of detained, but this only applies to non-violent crimes.

“In practice, this is rarely used because you don’t want a person to be deported and not serve their sentence, which is a risk if the person is sent to their home country where they have not been convicted of a crime,” said Stock, former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

It is unclear whether Brazil could seek Cavalcante’s extradition because of the pending murder charges there.

It is more likely, Stock said, that Cavalcante will remain incarcerated in Pennsylvania after his arrest until he serves his sentence. However, if he were ever released on parole, he would almost certainly be immediately turned over to immigration authorities for deportation.

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