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.
Life in Prison
Danelo Cavalcante was serving a lift sentence for the 2021 murder of his girlfriend.
There was no possibility of parole, so he was stuck in the Chester County (Pennsylvania) Prison.
He Was Sneaky
Or at least Cavalcante would have been stuck…if he hadn’t figured a way out of his predicament.
A Daring Escape
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.
They Were on High Alert
In the days following his disappearance, video of Cavalcante’s escape went viral, and the surrounding community went on high alert mode.
All Hands on Deck
Fingers pointed every which way as cops, other agencies, and local citizens searched round the clock.
So Many Questions
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 led to an arrest?
Gillen Had a Different Concern
But Pennsylvania state representative Mark Gillen, a Republican from the 128th district, had another take.
A Long RAP Sheet
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 is the main suspect.
Murder for Money
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 Found a New Home
Eventually, Cavalcante made his way north and into the United States. He landed in Pennsylvania and began to lay down new roots.
She Knew Too Much
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.
A Deadly Threat
When their relationship soured, Brandao threatened to turn Cavalcante over to authorities.
That’s when he stabbed her 37 times.
Immigration Policies to Blame
According to Gillen, the blame for all that tragedy lies squarely with federal politicians and flawed U.S. immigration policies.
Never Should Have Been Here
Cavalcante never should have been in the United States in the first place, says Gillen.
Citizens Aren’t Protected
The problem, says Gillen, is that current policies don’t do enough to protect U.S. citizens from illegal immigrants.
Politicians Ignore the Laws
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.
The Costs Are High
Not only do those policies put citizens in danger, Gillen says, they’re also a huge drain on local resources.
They Have Other Work to Do
Gillen points to the hundreds of law enforcement officers and even civilians who have been deployed in the manhunt for Cavalcante.
Spending their time and attention on him pulls them away from other aspects of their jobs.
Never Had to Happen
It could have all been prevented by enforcing immigration laws and never allowing Cavalcante into the country, Gillen says.
A Policy Emergency
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 surely lies ahead.
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Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Gorodenkoff. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.