BOCA RATON, Fla. – On March 13, Dimitrios Karaloukas, who owned Jimmy the Greek Taverna was stabbed to death by Tilus Lebrun, a 42 year-old Haitian national who worked as a dishwasher at the restaurant. TNH has it on good authority that Lebrun is an illegal alien, yet his immigration status is not even discussed in the numerous stories that have appeared about this murder.
Technically, Lebrun is Karaloukas’ “alleged” killer, because he has not been convicted of the crime in a court of law. But approximately 20 people were in the restaurant at the time and witnessed the stabbing, Lebrun was apprehended by the police in the street, still holding the murder weapon, and he confessed to them that he did it. That is about as “open and shut” a case as one can be.
The reason the story has been widely reported throughout the mainstream media is because of the reason Lebrun gave to the police as to his motive: he was angry at Karaloukas for posting a picture of him (Lebrun) on the Internet. The picture, to date, has yet to surface, and as we reported on our website, thenationalherald.com, Karaloukas’ widow, Maria, told “Boca’s local NBC News 5 “I’ve gone through my husband’s phone, through his Facebook, I’ve gone through everything, there was no picture.” Locating the actual photo – if there even is one – is almost irrelevant, however, because what makes this story compelling to many readers is that someone would actually commit murder over something like that.
ALIENS AND IMMIGRANTS
This columnist several years ago wrote a commentary for the New York Times about immigration, which the Times published but under the condition that the word “alien” would be replaced by “immigrant,” because “that’s our style,” a Times editor said. The editor refused to relent to changing that position even when this writer told him that the use of “immigrant” in some ways is incorrect.
Since then, the phrase “illegal alien” has all but been banished from the media altogether, replaced first by “illegal immigrant” and later by “undocumented immigrant.”
Both of those terms, however – “illegal alien” and “illegal immigrant” – are factually impossible, because as stipulated in American immigration law, an immigrant by definition is a person who has gone through the immigration process to become a legal permanent resident (colloquially, a “green card” holder), and who may or may not opt to become a U.S. citizen as well. Also according to immigration law, any person in the United States who is not a citizen is defined as an “alien.” Some aliens are immigrants, others (such as students, visitors, etc.) are nonimmigrants. Those aliens who are here legally are legal aliens (some of them are immigrants others nonimmigrants), and those who either entered the United States illegally or have remained here beyond their allotted time are illegal aliens. An “illegal immigrant” or “undocumented immigrant,” therefore, is an oxymoron. It is like calling someone a “meat-eating vegetarian.”
Lebrun is currently in jail at the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and has been charged with Felony Murder and First Degree (premeditated) Murder. An “ICE detainer” has been placed on him as well. That is a formal notice by the U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) branch of the Department of Homeland Security that it intends to assume custody of the individual. Because ICE does not issue such detainers for American citizens, it is clear that Lebrun, who “moved to the United States in 2005,” as the Sun Sentinel reports, is not a citizen.
Theoretically, it is possible for ICE detainers to be issued for legal aliens, because if convicted of certain crimes (such as murder) such aliens may lose their immigration privileges and be “removed” (deported) anyway, in many cases at the end of their U.S. prison term.
TNH sought to confirm Lebrun’s immigration status officially from the Palm Beach County Sherriff’s Office, which declined to comment and referred TNH to ICE. ICE, in turn, stated that it does not publicly disclose any person’s immigration status.
Moreover, in addition to washing dishes in Karaloukas’ restaurant kitchen, Lebrun also worked for the distribution department of the Sentinel – the very newspaper that first reported about the murder. The Sentinel was unable to confirm Lebrun’s immigration status to TNH, but referred TNH to the temp agency from which Lebrun was hired, whose main office would not disclose that information and would not confirm that, generally, a prospective applicant’s immigration status is ascertained prior to hire.
DOES IT MATTER?
The lack of official confirmation notwithstanding, TNH has good reason to believe that Lebrun is an illegal alien. And from a practical perspective, it matters very little, because unless Lebrun is somehow exonerated for this crime, he is either going to be sentenced to death, spend the rest of his life in prison, or be removed from the United States immediately upon his release.
It also probably matters very little, if at all, to Karaloukas’ family and friends – because Lebrun’s legal or illegal status doesn’t change that their beloved husband, father, friend, is gone. What is very telling, however, is that virtually no one has sought to report about Lebrun’s immigration status – as if such things do not matter. Aside from comments to newspaper articles and Internet blogs that simply make the assumption that because Lebrun is from Haiti and washed dishes in the kitchen of an American restaurant, he must be illegal.
That the media has reported nothing about this – not even, as we do here, any attempts on their part to ascertain such status – is a story in itself.
Is it not a factor that if there were stricter measures centered on preventing aliens to enter or remain in the United States illegally – whether by better enforcement of the borders, tougher sanctions on employers, landlords, or others who facilitate those aliens’ life in the United States, and better tracking to prevent aliens who entered legally from getting lost within 300 million Americans – Dimitrios Karaloukas would be alive today?
Granted, there are thousands of homicides in the United States each year, the vast majority not committed by aliens, let alone illegal ones. Nonetheless, does it no longer matter to consider the phenomenon of illegal alien status a contributing factor to the overall total?
Moreover, why are law enforcement agencies so reluctant to disclose illegal immigration status? Is it not a crime to be an illegal alien and, if so, when did criminal status become closed to public access? And why are employers not asking about immigration status? Is it a case of “don’t ask, don’t tell?”
It is a fact that most aliens are legal, and even among the illegal ones, most are peaceful and hardworking and – aside from their immigration status – law-abiding. It is also a fact that for those personally associated with Karaloukas, it matters far less what the status of his killer is, than that his killer killed him.
Nonetheless, that this murder is almost a month old and of the numerous print and broadcast media outlets that have reported about it, TNH is apparently the first to explore the issue of Lebrun’s immigration status speaks volumes about how the reality of illegal aliens is becoming more and more an afterthought.
Sources seeking to persuade Congress to restructure the immigration process by providing more stringent reviews about each prospective incoming immigrant and nonimmigrant told TNH that even if a guy like Lebrun entered the United States legally, surely there should have been some warning signs that something was not quite right with him.
Which is why, in the unlikely event that TNH’s sources were mistaken and that Lebrun was here legally after all, it would not change two things: 1) that virtually no one besides TNH has even questioned his status; and 2) that admitting a person into the United States who subsequently commits murder fuels the perception that our immigration process if flawed.