A man in a Texan prison, already charged with murdering an 81-year-old woman, was charged in May with murdering 11 more elderly women ranging in age from 76 to 94. The accused serial killer, Billy Chemirmir, worked in home health care and allegedly posed as a maintenance worker to gain access to his victims’ homes.
Chemirmir is accused of smothering his victims with a pillow, then stealing their jewelry and other valuables. Dallas police are now reevaluating 750 other cases in which elderly people died alone, to determine if Chemirmir may have been involved.
This awful story should have been big national news. It wasn’t. Chemirmir is a Kenyan citizen living illegally in the United States and hadn’t been deported despite two prior jail stints for driving while intoxicated convictions, plus another for assaulting a girlfriend.
Because Chemirmir used pillows, not guns, to kill his victims, his crimes presented no opportunity for gun-control advocates to manipulate the story. To be blunt, his race (black), legal status (illegal), and murder weapon (pillows) were all factors that ensured that this story wouldn’t receive the attention it would have if these factors were otherwise.
CNN, USA Today, MSNBC, NPR, The Daily Beast, BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, and many other news outlets ignored the story. NBC News referred to Chemirmir as a “Texas man” and made no mention of his illegal status. The Washington Post didn’t mention his immigration status until around the 20th paragraph of their article on it.
CBS reported on the story a year ago but didn’t mention that he was illegally present, and hasn’t covered it since. ABC News failed to identify Chemirmir as an illegal alien, and only briefly mentioned as an aside near the end of their story that he “also has an immigration hold against him.”
Elites often repeat the talking point that immigrants commit fewer crimes than Americans. In truth, however, most states don’t keep comparative crime statistics. Regardless of the statistical breakdown, media outlets purposely ignore stories that upend their preferred immigrants-as-choirboys narrative.
The same news outlets that ignored the Chermirmir story also ignored the tragic case of Ariana Funes-Diaz, a 14-year-old girl who was stripped naked, beaten with a baseball bat, then stabbed to death with a machete. Her assailants, a pair of teenage MS-13 gang members who had recently entered the country from El Salvador, threw her body in a creek.
One of Funes-Diaz’s accused murderers crossed into the United States in December 2015 with his family, who claimed asylum but didn’t show for their hearing. An immigration judge ordered his removal in March 2017. The other assailant was taken into custody as an unaccompanied minor in August 2016 but was later released to a family member.
A year ago, the pair were arrested on murder, armed robbery, and other charges in a separate case, but were never deported because Prince George is a sanctuary county that refuses to cooperate with federal officials in enforcing U.S. immigration laws. Just as with the Chemirmir case, most national media outlets ignored the story.
The Washington Post’s coverage initially minimized the immigration angle then later blamed U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for scapegoating local officials. The Post quoted Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Immigrant’s Rights Project, who said that ICE’s news release about the case was part of “the Trump administration’s efforts to essentially bully jurisdictions into becoming instruments of immigration enforcement.”
Given the horrific nature of this crime, that it was apparently committed by teens who shouldn’t have been in the country, and that the reporter reached out to the ACLU but not conservative organizations like the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) or The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) says a lot about the distorted lens through which the Post and other news outlets view immigration. They’re eager to cover stories about immigrants who became class valedictorians, but only begrudgingly cover immigrant serial killers, gang members, or other undesirables, if they cover them at all.
The media tiptoes around or outright ignores these stories primarily because they don’t fit their “immigrants-commit-fewer-crimes than Americans” narrative. Google also appears to keep immigrant crime out of the headlines. Googling “horrific crimes committed by illegal immigrants” or other similar search terms, and you’ll notice that most of the top results are bogus studies asserting that immigrants almost never commit serious crimes.
Yet readers don’t want editors to function as censors who withhold stories because they don’t advance their politics. A recent Knight Foundation and Gallup Poll found that 94 percent of Republicans and 75 percent of independents said they trust the media less now than they did a decade ago. As trust in the media has eroded, so too has the media’s trust in its readers. Readers have sensed that lack of respect and are increasingly retreating toward media that reflect their preexisting viewpoints.
Consumers of conservative-themed news outlets will know all about the Billy Chemirmirs of the world, just as devotees of liberal outlets can recite by heart every offensive statement Rep. Steve King has made. Each side becomes well-versed in their team’s talking points but rarely receives information that challenges their thinking.
The mainstream media should play a constructive role in bridging this polarization by simply presenting the news with equal treatment of facts that favor the left and the right, not censoring or sanitizing stories that may be offensive to some or inconvenient to others. Report the news and leave deciphering the narratives to us.