Migrant charged in woman's murder rocks NY House race, as GOP incumbent accuses Dem rival of dismissing crisis


Rep. Brandon Williams, R-N.Y., who is facing one of the most competitive House re-election bids in the country, has demanded an apology from Democratic challenger John Mannion for previously dismissing the “ignorance” of Republicans concerned about the migrant crisis after an illegal immigrant was charged with murdering a 21-year-old woman in his central New York district. 

On Tuesday, Mannion, a state senator, won the Democratic primary to take on Williams in November. 

That same day, Jhon Moises Chacaguasay-Ilbis, a 21-year-old illegal immigrant from Ecuador, allegedly murdered Joselyn Jhoana Toaquiza at an Airbnb property in Syracuse, New York. The gruesome crime, reportedly carried out on the victim’s 21st birthday, happened within the confines of Mannion’s state senate district, as well as the U.S. House district Williams was first elected to represent in 2022. 

Williams, a first-term congressman, U.S. Navy veteran and tech entrepreneur who bills himself as a political outsider, reminded voters of comments Mannion made last September blasting the “ignorance” of those in Republican jurisdictions concerned about the busing of migrants into their communities from New York City. 

“I demand an apology from John Mannion on behalf of the Central New York citizens that he called ignorant for being concerned that the migrant crisis would ever find its way into our communities,” Williams told Fox News Digital. “I think calling local voters ignorant is the height of arrogance. And it comes from a place of being really out of touch with, you know, with the average voter and with the community itself.” 

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This undated photo, provided by Mannion for New York, June 10, 2024, shows John Mannion, Democrat candidate for Congress in New York’s District 22.  (Courtesy Mannion for New York via AP)

“This is a common sense issue. Voters in Central New York are concerned about crime in general because of cashless bail and raise the age policies that have come out of Albany. But in this case, the southern border plays a huge role in that these illegal migrants are being moved all over the country with taxpayer money and are now in our community,” Williams said. “And sadly, a young woman would be alive today were it not for these policies…. The far left wants us to believe that they don’t matter or that they won’t reach our communities – in fact, calling Central New York voters ignorant for even having these concerns. And we have every reason to have these concerns. The evidence is all around us. This is just common sense. We have to reject the far left, extreme border policies that are making our communities less safe.” 

Mannion, who publicly called the busing of migrants from the Big Apple a “policy failure,” later privately criticized those in Republican jurisdictions “fearful that buses of migrants are going to come into where they live and change their community,” according to a leaked Zoom call he held with Democratic candidates that was previously reported by Fox News Digital. 

“It is just unbelievable to me, but I’m not surprised at the ignorance,” Mannion said in 2023. On the video call, he also expressed concern that the migrant crisis “will be weaponized” by Republican candidates. 

Fox News Digital reached out to Mannion’s state senate office and campaign for comment on the Syracuse murder case and Williams’ criticism, but did not immediately hear back. 

The Syracuse murder is not the first violent crime case involving asylum seekers seen across New York state. 

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Sakir Akkan, a 21-year-old migrant from Turkey, was charged Tuesday with first-degree rape in connection to an attack on a 15-year-old girl in Albany. That same week, Christian Geovanny Inga-Landi, a 25-year-old migrant from Ecuador, allegedly forced a pair of 13-year-olds into the woods near a park in Queens at knife point, tied their wrists together with shoelaces and raped one of them. 

Joselyn Jhoana Toaquiza

Joselyn Jhoana Toaquiza had just turned 21 years old when she was killed. (GoFundMe)

And, as Williams contended, concern over violent crime connected to the influx of migrants stretches across party lines. 

Last August, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, a Democrat who previously welcomed the busing of migrants from New York City as part of a controversial resettlement program, announced that the Buffalo-area jurisdiction would stop accepting migrants from the Big Apple following a second sexual assault connected to a migrant hotel operation, sparking safety concerns in the nearby residential neighborhood. 

This November, Williams said, “voters have a choice between a secure southern border or funding free health care for illegal migrants as my opponent has supported.” 

“It’s a very clear choice. In central New York, voters want common sense. They want us to look out for our community, for our citizens, and to keep us safe and, frankly, to make life more affordable. And, the policies that the Republican Party have pursued,” Williams told Fox News Digital. “New York State is reeling from a Democrat supermajority in Albany, and the far-left policies that Kathy Hochul has championed and pushed through with a compliant state Senate and Assembly has wreaked havoc on New York State and even upstate, where they’ve exported the New York City values, the elitist far left values into our community.” 

Williams during congressional hearing

Rep. Brandon Williams, R-NY, speaks during a House Education and the Workforce subcommittee hearing on May 8, 2024, in Washington, D.C.  (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

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Chacaguasay-Ilbis and Toaquiza had gone to primary school together in Ecuador, and the woman had also entered the U.S. illegally, reportedly fleeing an unidentified former lover in her home country, The Post-Standard reported. Chilling surveillance video showed the two entering an Airbnb property together. Three hours later, Chacaguasay-Ilbis could be seen carrying the woman’s limp body into his truck. 

He allegedly had suffocated her to death and then buried her body in a shallow grave. Prosecutors said he then caught a Lyft to a nearby Greyhound station and boarded a bus bound for New York City. 

Chacaguasay-Ilbis turned himself into police in Spring Valley, located in Rockland County, about 35 miles northwest of New York City. Online records show he was booked into the Onondaga County Justice Center on Wednesday on a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer and murder and concealment of a corpse charges brought by the Syracuse Police Department. 

Homeland Security sources told the New York Post that Toaquiza crossed the southern border illegally into Lukeville, Arizona, on June 19, 2023. She told Border Patrol that she feared returning to Ecuador because she was being threatened by a past romantic partner and was soon released into the U.S. with a later court date.

Jhon Moises Chacaguasay-Ilbis and Joselyn Jhoana Toaquiza

Jhon Moises Chacaguasay-Ilbis and Joselyn Jhoana Toaquiza enter Airbnb.  (WSYR-TV)

The sources reportedly said Chacaguasay-Ilbis crossed the border illegally in El Paso, Texas, in January 2023 and was released into the U.S. because there wasn’t any space to hold him.

Regarding border security, as well as foreign policy issues, Williams pointed to the primary defeat of “Squad” member Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., by challenger George Latimer, a moderate Democrat, as signaling a referendum on the leftist agendas being promoted in Congress. Several key Republican pick-ups in New York were critical to the GOP reclaiming the House majority by a razor-thin margin following the 2022 midterms. 

New York is the host of half a dozen competitive House races in 2024, and House Republican Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., in a recent interview with Fox News Digital, touted GOP momentum in the blue stronghold state in recent years. Williams still faces an uphill battle to maintain control of New York’s 22nd congressional district, which leans Democrat, according to the Cook Political Report’s May analysis. 

Williams was ranked top of the list of the 10 most vulnerable House members by Roll Call that month. 

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“I think it’s frightening a lot of voters, what the far left really wants to accomplish,” Williams said, noting that he is from a swing district where voters make decisions based on what they believe is best for their community regardless of party.

“And that’s about common sense. We saw that in 2022 with Lee Zeldin’s candidacy for governor. He won my district, this current configuration, by almost three points on a message of common sense and standing up against the far left. And that’s precisely what I’ve done ever since I got elected.” 



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