Ruslan Burshteyn asked a poignant question after his mother, Lyudmila, was carjacked and murdered by an illegal immigrant with a criminal record.
How did Lenroy Laurance, who hails from Jamaica, escape deportation when he was released from a Brooklyn jail years before the murder? (See my previous post here: http://bit.ly/sME6qi)
If Laurance had been banished, he would never have crossed Lyudmila's path in Philadelphia on Sept. 2, 2009. Laurance had forced her to lie on the floor in the back of the car for six tortuous hours before he shot her to death in a Burlco field.
Khaalid Walls, spokesman for ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) tried to make sense of what had happened. Laurance's case is not unique and illustrates the "difficulties involved in deporting illegal aliens," he said in an e-mail.
Before ICE can send a felon home it must get "travel documents" from the country of origin.
If birth certificates can't be located; if a country refuses to cooperate and issue the required documents, or if there is some other obstacle that would prevent deportation within 180 days, ICE must release that person.
The Supreme Court, Walls said, has ruled that felons cannot be confined indefinitely unless they pose a national security threat or meet some other limited criteria.
During the time the felon is free, ICE continues to work on getting the paperwork in order. The felon is supposed to periodically check in.
At one point, Laurance, who was convicted of selling drugs and robbery, went AWOL. Jamaica is one of 27 countries that delay the removal process, making it difficult for ICE to do its work.
Before Laurance was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder Friday, Ruslan thanked prosecutors for doing all they could to get justice for his mother, a Russian Jew who became a U.S. citizen after her family fled the former Soviet Union.
Lyudmila's family legally obtained asylum and she went to night school to learn English. She became a successful businesswoman, married and raised a family.
Assistant Burlco Prosecutor Ray Milavsky said Lyudmila was a sterling example of an immigrant who deserved respect, while Laurance, a career criminal who illegally entered the U.S., was the opposite.
Ruslan said he's seen both sides of how "the system in this country" works. He's witnessed the fine ideals that provide the grease, but now he's also felt the sting of its failings.