Greeks have a saying, “efige adika – he (or she) departed unjustly,” for occasions when a person dies by other than natural causes, such as in an accident or by homicide. On March 13, 2014, Dimitrios Karaloukas, a 61-year-old restaurateur in Boca Raton, FL “efige adika.” He was stabbed to death inside his own restaurant by an employee of his, then-42-year-old Tilus Lebrun, a native of Haiti, who upon being apprehended by the police with the murder weapon still in his hand, confessed to the crime and said he murdered his employer because Karaloukas posted a photo of Lebrun on the Internet (Facebook, I believe) and thereby “stole his essence.”
Lebrun is still in custody but has yet to go on trial because whether or not he is mentally competent to stand trial is at issue.
The incident, as most vicious murders do, received some national media attention, and the legal proceedings continue to be updated in the local Florida press. But to my knowledge, in the ensuing three-and-a-half years since the murder, no media outlet has reported that Lebrun is a Person Here Illegally (PHI). Except for The National Herald.
What is important here is not Lebrun’s immigration status – after all, plenty of American-born people commit murder too – but the lengths to which law enforcement authorities go to conceal it, and a media that largely does not seem interested in uncovering it.
All PHIs, by being PHIs, are breaking the law. Entering the United States illegally is a crime in itself. Remaining here illegally (after having entered legally) is a civil wrong, but is often accompanied by various crimes related to evading detection (such as using a false identity). Therefore, Lebrun and other PHIs have no right to the privacy of their immigration status.
Unfortunately, many local elected officials, including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, don’t see it that way. They believe that immigration is a “federal matter” and so the NYPD should stay out of it and not share the immigration status of convicted felons with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Yet de Blasio recently opined about whether or not the statue of Christopher Columbus, which has adorned Columbus Circle at 59th Street in Manhattan since 1892, ought to be taken down, as part of the national debate about whether certain monuments integral to America’s history ought to be removed because they are offensive in some manner (such as in the enabling or perpetuating of slavery). Last time I checked, the First Amendment is a “federal matter” too. Apparently, the mayor chooses to get involved in federal matters selectively when it so behooves him.
Nicole Malliotakis, the presumptive Republican challenger to incumbent Democrat de Blasio this November, is no less pro-immigrant than he is. An immigrant, of course, is a Legal Permanent Resident or naturalized U.S. citizen, not to be confused with a legal nonimmigrant (such as a visitor or student), or PHI. But Malliotakis is not even anti-PHI. She has repeatedly stated that she is not in any way supportive of any idea to round up and deport PHIs. She only wants to protect us from the ones who commit felonies.
A daughter of immigrants – a Greek father and a Latina mother – Malliotakis would like to see immigration reform whereby millions of PHIs living in the shadows can emerge with legal status in some reasonable manner. Unlike de Blasio, however, she believes that immigration information about such convicted felons should indeed be shared with federal authorities.
That anyone would support the opposite view seems utterly illogical to me – and I am someone who usually can see both sides of an issue, even if I am more supportive of one side over the other. Such examples include Obamacare, abortion, same-sex marriage, school prayer, transgenders in the military, offshore drilling, tax cuts, etc. There are plausible arguments to be made on either side. But I have yet to hear of an argument that makes sense about why local law enforcement authorities should not report the capture of a PHI to the appropriate federal immigration agency. In fact, I would argue that knowingly failing to do so is a violation of federal law, as it enables such PHIs to remain in the United States undetected.
In Lebrun’s case, he committed homicide in front of several witnesses and even confessed to the crime himself. It is very likely that he will spend the rest of his life incarcerated in a mental institution or prison. Suppose, however, that somewhere in New York City, a PHI commits a horrible but comparatively less serious crime, such as sexual assault, and is sentenced to just one year in jail. With de Blasio at the helm, that PHI would serve his year in prison and then be set free to continue roaming the streets, remaining in the United States illegally, unbeknownst to ICE. That de Blasio or any other mayor would engage in that practice is illogical. That they would do so to garner the support of a voting bloc that, egged on by the media, thinks that enforcing federal immigration laws amounts to xenophobia, nativism, jingoism, racism, white supremacy, and even Nazism, is as low as an elected official can sink.
It took a long, hard, and creative effort on my part to finally be able to confirm that Lebrun is a PHI. Every journalist should seek that information and every law enforcement agency should provide it. To the general public, but certainly to other law enforcement agencies.
Again, there are more American-born individuals who commit felonies in the United States than foreign-born ones, and a homicide victim’s loved ones wouldn’t suffer any less a loss if the killer were a natural-born U.S. citizen. But some loved ones have chosen to do something about it, to prevent as many future felonies as they can. Groups like Advocates for Victims of Illegal Alien Crime (AVIAC), whose launching I attended at the National Press Club in Washington, DC in June and reported about in this newspaper (“Holding Congress’ Feet to the Fire on Immigration in Washington, DC,” Jul. 8). We can all help their cause at the voting booth.
There are many reasons to support Nicole Malliotakis for mayor, and between now and November, I imagine I will write about more. But even if the only reason to vote for her is her stark contrast to de Blasio’s weak attempts to rein in PHI felons, it would be more than enough.