David Maya will spend as much as 25 years in prison for raping a 12-year-old Wheeling, W.Va., girl this summer. Then he will go home - to Mexico.
Maya, 24, was living in Maryland when he used the Internet to stalk the girl, then went to Wheeling to rape her in June. Last week, he pleaded guilty to the charge and Circuit Judge David Sims sentenced him to six to 25 years in prison. Let's hope he serves the full quarter-century behind bars.
Once Maya leaves prison, he will be sent back to Mexico. He was in this country on a visa, and will be deported.
His case is far from unique. Similar crimes in which illegal immigrants raped children have been in headlines throughout the United States just during the past few months. Sexual assault cases in Tennessee, North Carolina, Nex Mexico, New York, Michigan, Missouri and California were found in a brief search.
It is a topic some reseachers have investigated, with some of them worrying the statistics they find will prompt some Americans to stereotype illegal immigrants.
That would not be fair or intelligent, of course. As many as 11 million illegal immigrants live in the United States. The overwhelming majority of them break no laws except for those against their presence here.
But there is a problem, according to a study by the Violent Crimes Institute in Atlanta, Ga. According to a published report, researchers there found there are tens of thousands of illegal immigrants who are sex offenders in the United States. About 2 percent of the illegal immigrants detained by the authorities are sex offenders, according to the study.
Sims did the right thing by sentencing Maya to a long prison term. Unfortunately, even if he serves the maximum, he will not be an old man when he is deported to Mexico - possibly to sneak back into the United States.
States have sex offender registries to keep track of men and women who may pose threats to society. Maya and people like him should be on the registries, and federal officials should establish a database of illegal immigrants convicted of sex crimes. It should be checked every time a repeat illegal immigrant is caught - and sex offenders who come back to this country should be locked up for life.