When the manhunt for a convicted murderer stretched into a second week, a Pennsylvania politician used the moment to complain about U.S. immigration policies. Here is what he had to say.
Over Razor Wire to Freedom
Danelo Cavalcante was serving a life sentence for the 2021 murder of his girlfriend. There was no possibility of parole, so he was stuck in the Chester County (Pennsylvania) Prison.
Or at least Cavalcante would have been stuck if he hadn’t figured a way out of his predicament.
In early September of 2023, Cavalcante shimmied up the walls of a passageway on the prison grounds. From there, he made his way over razor wire and out into the world beyond.
In the days following his disappearance, video of Cavalcante’s escape went viral, and the surrounding community went on high alert mode.
Fingers pointed every which way as cops, other agencies, and local citizens searched around the clock.
How Could He Escape?
How could the guards have allowed Cavalcante to escape? How could cops and prison officials not have found him immediately? How could multiple sightings in the days that followed not lead to an arrest?
But Pennsylvania state representative Mark Gillen, a Republican from the 128th district, had another take.
Writing for the website of local TV station WFMZ 69 in Berks County, Gillen first recounted Cavalcante’s RAP sheet. The list of crimes included a 2017 murder in Brazil, where the escapee was the main suspect.
In fact, there is an active warrant for Cavalcante’s arrest in that case. He allegedly killed a man who owed him money, then fled.
He Stabbed Her 37 Times
Eventually, Cavalcante made his way north and into the United States. He landed in Pennsylvania and began to lay down new roots.
Part of those roots included a relationship with Deborah Brandao, a single mother of two. Cavalcante told her about his past, and that would prove to be a fatal mistake – for her.
When their relationship soured, Brandao threatened to turn Cavalcante over to authorities. That’s when he stabbed her 37 times.
According to Gillen, the blame for all that tragedy lies squarely with federal politicians and flawed U.S. immigration policies.
An Illegal Immigrant
Cavalcante never should have been in the United States in the first place, says Gillen.
The problem, says Gillen, is that current policies don’t do enough to protect U.S. citizens from illegal immigrants.
Laws are in place that require immigrants to take a tried and true path to enter the United States, after all. But according to Gillen, the country’s officials are all too happy to ignore those laws.
Not only do those policies put citizens in danger, Gillen says, but they’re also a significant drain on local resources.
Gillen points to the hundreds of law enforcement officers and even civilians who have been deployed in the manhunt for Cavalcante.
He Should Never Have Been in the U.S
Spending their time and attention on him pulls them away from other aspects of their jobs.
It could have all been prevented by enforcing immigration laws and never allowing Cavalcante into the country, Gillen says.
Gillen sees the Cavalcante case as a high-profile indictment of the immigration system and concludes his rant with a call for action to U.S. lawmakers.
Change the policies now, he says, or more trouble indeed lies ahead.
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Vadzim Mashkou