Police Officer’s Death Reignites Sanctuary Debate

Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson is taking aim at California’s sanctuary state policies following the murder of a California police officer.

Newman Police Cpl. Ronil Singh, 33, was fatally shot Wednesday, Dec. 26, by a motorist he pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving. The suspect, Gustavo Perez Arriaga, also 33, is an undocumented immigrant with two previous DUIs, known gang ties, and two active arrest warrants. He was apprehended Friday in Bakersfield while trying to flee back to his home country of Mexico. Seven others were also arrested for trying to help him evade police.

“This is a criminal illegal alien with prior criminal activity that should have been reported to ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement),” Sheriff Christianson said at a press conference. “We were prohibited, law enforcement was prohibited because of sanctuary laws and that led to the encounter with (Cpl.) Singh.”

“Why are we providing sanctuary for criminals, gang members?” the sheriff added, referring to Senate Bill 54 (2017) and the Trust Act (2013) which limit state and local cooperation with federal immigration agencies. “It’s a conversation we need to have.”

President Donald Trump also weighed in almost immediately, tweeting “Time to get tough on Border Security. Build the Wall!”

Gov. Jerry Brown and former State Senator Kevin de León, who authored SB 54, have both pushed back on the notion that California’s sanctuary state legislation is to blame for Cpl. Sing’s death.

“California law fully permits the sharing of information on dangerous gang members,” Brown’s spokesman Evan Westrup said. De León said the suspect should have already been in custody given the active warrants and called Sheriff Christianson’s comments “highly irresponsible.”

Cpl. Singh had been with the Newman Police Department since 2011 and previously served as an officer in Merced. He was a native of the island of Fiji and a married father of newborn baby.

His brother also spoke out in a heartbreaking press conference after Arriaga’s capture. With tears in his eyes, he thanked law enforcement for its tireless work in tracking down his brother’s alleged killer.

This is the first death of an on-duty police officer in Newman’s history. It is the 11th on-duty death of a California officer in 2018.