[“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.]

The Washington Post reports on the problem of illegal alien criminals — but seems to think that concern about the issue is a passing fad:

With a single sentence in a news release, a slaying in Prince William County gained high-profile treatment this week, not because of how the crime was committed, but because of who police say did it: a twice-deported illegal immigrant.

What was not mentioned before — a suspect’s legal status — is now un-ignorable in a county that is leading the charge against illegal immigration.

The homicide slipped into a blog headline yesterday: “Another resident dies at the hands of an illegal alien.” It also created piles of paperwork for police officers who were told to research other alleged crimes by illegal immigrants. And, perhaps most telling, a drunken fight between two men that left one dead was the subject of a news conference yesterday held by the county’s top law enforcement officials — one that they said wouldn’t have been held except for the current atmosphere.

The “current atmosphere,” eh?

The “current atmosphere” is one in which people actually care that violent crimes are regularly being committed by people who never should have been in this country to begin with — and who, in many cases, benefited in the past from kid-glove treatment at the hands of immigration officials. In some locations, law enforcement has always known the illegal status of people charged with violent crimes, but hasn’t volunteered it — and the media has always been curiously incurious. But in the “current atmosphere,” law enforcement is starting to tell the media about it anyway:

As a person’s legal status has seeped into the daily debate in a county that passed a tough resolution this summer to deny services to illegal immigrants, it seemed only logical to mention that Christian Molina, 30, was deported twice before he was charged with murder, said First Sgt. Kim Chinn, a police spokeswoman. The news release Wednesday said he was deported in 2003 and 2005.

“We’re getting asked by the media anyway,” Chinn said. “We’re just going to go ahead and put it out there” if the department knows the person’s legal status and if it knows whether the person has been deported.

Checking the legal status of people facing serious charges is not new — police have been doing it for years and have placed 364 people in the deportation process over the past 3 1/2 years. But at the news conference, authorities pointed to three cases in which an illegal immigrant was a suspect in a violent crime in the past week. Mug shots were taped on the wall.

The article describes a few recent cases:

One was a rape case in which the man is thought to have fled to El Salvador. In another, two teenagers were walking in Woodbridge when two Hispanic men are alleged to have stopped them, assaulted the man and sexually assaulted the woman. One of those men was deported in the past, police said. In the latest case, Molina, also known as Jose Maximino Flores-Perales, is charged with strangling Ronald D. Hollingsworth, 51, Sunday night in a drunken fight.

During his arrest, Molina gave police a fake name, but a fingerprint analysis revealed his identity and his lack of legal standing in the country, authorities said. His law enforcement history showed a series of incidents in Texas, starting with an allegation of marijuana possession in 2000, they said.

Here’s the kicker:

His second deportation came after he was convicted of aggravated robbery in January 2004 in San Antonio.

So: that’s a rape, a set of assaults, and a murder that could have been prevented by better border enforcement, charging people with illegal re-entry, and/or deporting illegals arrested for any offense.

Deport the Criminals First.

But note well: border enforcement is a key component of the strategy. As I have observed before, deporting individuals does no good if they don’t stay out. The local police chief in Prince William County agrees:

“Deportation is part of the equation. But we’re seeing cases where individuals reenter the country, and that has us concerned that the borders are porous,” [Chief Charlie T.] Deane said.

Ya think?

By the way, I have said many times that locals need to get more involved, but that illegal immigration is ultimately a problem that belongs to the federal government. As a supervisor in Prince William County puts it: “The bottom line is we’ll never find a complete solution without the federal government.” Locals need to do their part, but they need help. Right now, they’re not getting it — but this may be changing . . . in the “current atmosphere.”

With apologies to those who named this site, let’s keep up the pressure so that the feds don’t see this atmosphere as a cloud of “hot air” that will dissipate the next time the political winds blow.