On May 23, ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers arrested an alien Brazilian fugitive convicted of murder in his home country — a crime likely tied to his membership in that country’s “largest criminal gang operation”. That’s the good news. The bad news is this arrest confirms one of the most disturbing findings of federal district court Judge T. Kent Wetherell II in his March 8 order in Florida v. U.S. — CBP officers and agents at the border usually have “no way to determine if an alien has a criminal history in his home country” before releasing such alien. This case underscores how vulnerable the administration’s migrant release policies have left Americans.
“ERO Boston Arrests Fugitive Gang Member Convicted of Murder in Brazil”. On May 30, the ICE press shop issued a news release captioned “ERO Boston arrests fugitive gang member convicted of murder in Brazil” — a headline that neatly summarizes the case.
Just to fill in a couple of blanks, however, ICE ERO arrested that Brazilian national in Somerset, Mass., on May 23, an “enforcement decision” they made “on a case-by-case basis in a professional and responsible manner, informed by their experience as law enforcement officials and in a way that best protects against the greatest threats to the homeland and the integrity of U.S. immigration laws”.
Seriously — the ICE ERO press shop wrote that. I feel like I am being trolled.
The “fugitive gang member” in question is — curiously — unidentified in that press release, and his face is blurred in the accompanying photograph, apparently out of concerns that DHS doesn’t want to unfairly tarnish the reputations of alien gang-member murderers. That’s likely thanks to the “professional and responsible manner” the Biden administration mandates ICE go about its alien murderer arrest business.
In any event, ICE offers up plenty of other information about the “noncitizen” (again, Orwellian “newspeak” mandated by the Biden administration to ensure DHS doesn’t hurt the feelings of Brazilian fugitive gang-member murderers by confusing them with extraterrestrials), including the fact that he is 50 years old and “a confirmed, active member of Primeiro Comando Da Capital (PCC) — Brazil’s largest criminal gang organization”.
In case you lack a working familiarity with Brazilian organized criminal organizations, in December 2021 the U.S. State Department helpfully explained:
[PCC] is the most powerful organized crime group in Brazil and among the most powerful in the world. PCC arose in Sao Paulo in the 1990s and has forged a bloody path to dominance through drug trafficking, as well as money laundering, extortion, murder-for-hire, and drug debt collection. The PCC operates throughout South America, and its operations reach the United States, Europe, Africa, and Asia.
Lest you conclude that the unnamed 50-year-old Brazilian gang member in question was a “one-trick pony” — just good at murder and little else — let me assure you that he has other “accomplishments” on his resume.
That’s evidenced by the fact that in his two-score-and-ten years on earth, he has, according to ICE, accumulated “an extensive, violent criminal history which includes his conviction for homicide as well as convictions for attempted murder, robbery and aggravated assault on a police officer in Brazil”.
“DHS Has No Way to Determine if an Alien Has a Criminal History in His Home Country”. At this point, you may be wondering how “a confirmed, active member of Primeiro Comando Da Capital (PCC) — Brazil’s largest criminal gang organization” with “an extensive, violent criminal history which includes his conviction for homicide as well as convictions for attempted murder, robbery and aggravated assault on a police officer in Brazil” managed to get to Somerset, Mass.
Did the State Department consular officer manage to miss that “extensive, violent criminal history” when it issued him the visa to come here, and then did the CBP officer manning the inspection’s kiosk at Boston’s Logan International Airport skip over the various crimes on his record, any of which would have barred his admission? That’s how the screening process for would-be alien murderers is supposed to work.
No. He entered the United States illegally and was released by Border Patrol, as the ICE press release explains:
He unlawfully entered the United States near San Luiz, Arizona, in March 2023. He was apprehended by U.S. Border Patrol, placed into removal proceedings, and served a notice to appear before an immigration judge after he withheld information on his murder conviction.
Read that excerpt again, particularly the part where he “withheld information on his murder conviction”. I am reminded of the response of British showgirl, Mandy Rice-Davies, when confronted in court at the Old Bailey in 1963 with the fact that Lord Astor had denied her claims that the pair had had an affair: “He would, wouldn’t he?”
Again, seriously, is DHS — the Department of Homeland Security — relying on the honesty of murderers to disclose their past acts of criminality, or in the case of would-be terrorists to admit that they’re here to attack our people and institutions?
That would be like someone walking into a San Francisco Target, and when asked by the clerk whether they needed help, responding, “No thanks. I’m just here to shoplift.”
The problem is that, as Judge Wetherell explained in Florida v. U.S. (Florida I), absent such a disclosure there is virtually nothing that CBP knows about the vast majority of the migrants it is releasing.
Florida I began in September 2021, when the state of Florida filed a complaint alleging the Biden administration was deliberately “ignoring” a congressional mandate in section 235(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) that requires DHS to detain migrants who have crossed the Southwest border illegally. That, the state alleged, caused it fiscal harm.
After almost 15 months of intense discovery, deliberation, and argument, Judge Wetherell largely agreed, finding that the Biden administration has a de facto overarching non-detention policy for illegal entrants that was contrary to Congress’ detention requirements in the INA.
Most saliently, in his March 8 opinion in Florida I, the judge found:
DHS has no way to determine if an alien has a criminal history in his home country unless that country reports the information to the U.S. government or the alien self-reports. Therefore, DHS is mainly only screening aliens at the border to determine if they have previously committed a crime in the United States, and because many of these aliens are coming to the United States for the first time, DHS has no idea whether they have criminal histories or not.
Lessons from the 9-11 Commission. In its August 2004 final report, the bipartisan National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (better known as the “9-11 Commission”) focused on the importance of screening foreign nationals with potential malign intent who are seeking entry to the United States:
When people travel internationally, they usually move through defined channels, or portals. They may seek to acquire a passport. They may apply for a visa. They stop at ticket counters, gates, and exit controls at airports and seaports. Upon arrival, they pass through inspection points. They may transit to another gate to get on an airplane. Once inside the country, they may seek another form of identification and try to enter a government or private facility. They may seek to change immigration status in order to remain.
Each of these checkpoints or portals is a screening — a chance to establish that people are who they say they are and are seeking access for their stated purpose, to intercept identifiable suspects, and to take effective action. [Emphasis added.]
In light of what the ICE press release had to say about the entry of our unidentified Brazilian PCC gang-member cum murderer, and Judge Wetherell’s findings, the 9-11 Commission needn’t have bothered spending nearly three years investigating how 19 alien terrorists managed to kill 2,977 Americans, and how to prevent it from happening again. Nobody in the White House or at DHS HQ cares.
For what it’s worth, the commission’s assumptions about how aliens “travel internationally” to the United States seem downright quaint. Few if any of the more than two million migrants the Biden administration has released at the Southwest border ever bothered to “apply for a visa”.
And, as Judge Wetherell found, the main focus at those Southwest border “inspection points” under the Biden administration is not on inspection at all — it’s on releasing those migrants as quickly as possible, which CBP has been ordered to do unless, per chance, the alien’s home country “reports” derogatory “information to the U.S. government or the alien self-reports”.
The Ignored Dangers. If you were to ask the unnamed Biden administration functionaries crafting his senseless, dangerous, and feckless migrant release policies what they think about the release of a PCC gang member with “an extensive, violent criminal history that includes his conviction for homicide as well as convictions for attempted murder, robbery and aggravated assault on a police officer in Brazil”, they would likely tell you two things.
First, this is a one-off incident in which someone who “withheld information on his murder conviction” when asked about it by Border Patrol agents in San Luiz, Ariz., in March 2023. Second, just because he did bad things in the past doesn’t mean he’ll do something bad here.
Neither is valid.
While I have no reason to believe that any of the other two million-plus aliens released by the Biden administration at the Southwest border have “extensive, violent criminal histories”, as this case reveals I similarly have no evidence showing that they don’t all have such foreign rap sheets. That’s how law — and for that matter logic — works. Border screening has become a “garbage in, garbage out” business.
As for inclinations to give alien criminals second chances, section 212 of the INA bars criminals like this from admission to the United States because Congress actually understands how the world works, or at least believes that the risks of alien criminals reoffending here are too high to take a chance.
The State Department talked about the PCC gang in December 2021 because it was trumpeting an executive order issued by President Biden “to modernize the U.S. Department of Treasury’s sanctions authorities used to combat the illicit drug trade”, and the Treasury Department designated PCC under that order.
Remember, as State explained, PCC “operations reach the United States”. I have more than a few doubts that this guy was in Somerset, Mass., on May 23 to attend the scheduled “County Commissioner’s Priority Needs Hearing” there that night.
The Biden administration is willfully leaving the American people vulnerable to the criminal and terrorist risks posed by the millions of aliens it’s failing to screen and releasing into the United States at the Southwest border. I’m not saying all those aliens have “extensive, violent criminal histories” or terrorist intents — but frankly, there’s no way to know they don’t.