[“Deport the Criminals First” is a recurring feature on this blog, highlighting crimes committed by illegal immigrants — with a special focus on repeat offenders. I argue that, instead of arresting illegal immigrants who work hard for a living, we should use our limited immigration enforcement resources to target illegal immigrants who commit crimes in this country.]

A piece on the Chicago Tribune web site tells the story of what happens when government officials fail to Deport the Criminals First. (h/t Ed J.)

Prosecutors allege that Mwenda Murithi was a leader in the Imperial Gangsters and on the evening of June 25 he gave the order to shoot at a rival gang, killing 13-year-old Schanna Gayden, an innocent bystander.

Murithi, 26, was charged with first-degree murder along with the alleged gunman, Tony Serrano, 19.

The question at trial will be whether there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Murithi is guilty of that charge.

The question I have, though, is why Murithi was in the country at all that night.

It turns out that Murithi had “emigrated from Kenya on a student visa” which was terminated for dropping out of school.

He became not just an uninvited guest in this country but a most unwelcome one: Chicago police records show Murithi was arrested 27 times from June 2003 until his arrest in connection with Schanna’s slaying on a Northwest Side school playground.

The charges weren’t horrible — mostly possession of cocaine, possession of marijuana, obstruction of traffic, drinking alcohol on a public way and other offenses commonly associated with the career of drug-dealing gang-bangers. Police said four of the charges were felonies; the Cook County state’s attorney’s office said Murithi had two misdemeanor convictions, one of which resulted in 30 days in jail this spring.

But still. It’s disquieting that anyone with that kind of track record for trouble spent so little time behind bars. And it’s outrageous that Murithi was still in the United States June 25, more than four years after he became an illegal immigrant and began racking up arrests.

Yes, it is. If Murithi had been deported any one of those 27 times he was arrested, it’s likely that Schanna Gayden would still be alive.

So whose fault is it? Watch as the buck gets passed:

Not us! said the Chicago Police Department. “We don’t ever ask about immigration status,” said spokeswoman Monique Bond. “We leave that up to the courts.”

Not us! said the Cook County state’s attorney’s office. “We don’t check,” said spokesman John Gorman. “That’s for [ICE] to do. We’re not involved.”

Not us! said ICE. “Law enforcement agencies can contact our Law Enforcement Support Center for timely and accurate information” 24 hours a day, Rusnok said. If “the person who is being inquired about is subject to removal, [ICE] can place a detainer with the Police Department ordering the department to hold the person … to allow ICE officials to take the person into custody and begin removal proceedings.”

Somewhere in all that buck-passing, 13-year-old Schanna Gayden lost her life.

schanna-gayden.jpg

The way to prevent such tragedies is simple. We must reallocate ICE resources so that all inmates in every jail and prison in the country are screened for their immigration status — so that all illegals are deported after serving their sentences. We must deputize local law enforcement officials to help identify illegals. We must end “sanctuary city” policies that prevent local law enforcement from making such inquiries.

If we do these things, we can concentrate our limited deportation resources on the least desirable illegals: the ones who commit crimes while in this country.

Some efforts have begun in Washington, D.C. to make some of these changes. But it’s not enough. Until we are identifying each and every illegal inmate in the country, it’s just not enough.

How many Schanna Gaydens need to die before we take action?

[Patterico blogs at Patterico.com and can be reached at patterico -AT- gmail -DOT- com.]

Tags: immigration