‘He’s not coming back,” said Reggie Singh.
The inconsolable brother of the late Newman, Calif., police officer Ronil Singh told journalists last week, “There’s a lot of people out there that misses him.”
Corporal Singh is gone for good because Gustavo Perez Arriaga shot him dead, officials say. This small-town case has national repercussions. This tale of two immigrants finds Singh and Arriaga as the apotheoses of how Republicans and Democrats respectively see immigration.
Singh, 33, was a model immigrant. He came to America from Fiji — legally. He reportedly drove a four-hour round trip to attend Yuba City’s police academy. He took speech classes to smooth his heavily accented English, his third language. He became a public servant and spent seven-and-a-half years as a cop.
“He came to America to become a police officer,” Newman police chief Randy Richardson said. “That’s all he wanted to do.” On Facebook, Ugesh Yogi Singh, Ronil’s uncle, called him “my adventurous nephew” and “my family’s Action Hero.”
Alas, Ronil Singh is dead, allegedly shot by an under-the-influence Arriaga, whom he had stopped for a missing license plate.
One of Singh’s colleagues on Newman’s twelve-member force told journalists at a December 28 memorial vigil: “When you lose a brother like Ronil, it’s difficult to process. I don’t think I’ll ever forget how I felt when I got that text message, and I saw it on Facebook. It’s kind of surreal. I would like to get on my phone, call him, and be able to hear his voice. But that’s not going to happen anymore.”
Singh is survived by his wife Anamika, a five-month-old son, and Sam, his black Labrador Retriever K-9 partner. Singh spent Christmas evening with his young family, before starting what would become his final shift ever. Chief Richardson decided to retire Sam and give her to Singh’s widow and orphan. “I will not take another member of that family from them,” he said.
Arriaga, 33, is not a model immigrant. He came to America from Mexico — illegally, crossing the border via Arizona. Yet the notion that the United States suffers a border-security crisis seems lost on Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York and House speaker Nancy Pelosi of California. They reportedly refused even to listen to Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen’s classified border-security briefing in the White House Situation Room on Wednesday. Instead, they repeatedly interrupted Nielsen as she tried to detail national-security threats on the southern front.
I am disappointed that Dems did not want to hear from @DHSgov about the security & humanitarian crisis we are facing at the border. They didn’t want to hear about criminal aliens, drug smugglers, smuggled & abused children or violent caravans trying to breach the border wall.
— Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen (@SecNielsen) January 3, 2019
President Donald J. Trump sent every member of Congress the slides from the security update that Pelosi and Schumer ignored. According to that presentation, Customs and Border Protection seized 850 tons of narcotics and arrested 17,000 adults with existing criminal records in fiscal year 2018, blocked 3,755 known or suspected terrorists from entering the country in FY 2017, and apprehended 6,000 gang members. How much of these substances and how many of these dangerous individuals eluded federal officials? Who knows?
The Democrats’ deep denial on the colander-like U.S.–Mexico frontier goes well beyond Pelosi and Schumer. Among all congressional Democrats last month, only Senator Doug Jones of Alabama backed $5.7 billion for border fortifications. See also the T-shirt that then-Democratic National Committee vice chairman Keith Ellison wore last year at, of all places, a May Day parade: “Yo no creo en fronteras,” it read. Translation: “I do not believe in borders.”
Arriaga had two previous DUI arrests and also belonged to the Sureño street gang. But Democrats stood in the way on this issue, too. In September 2017, the U.S. House considered the Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act, which would let U.S. officials bar foreigners affiliated with criminal organizations. Republicans embraced this measure 222–1. Democrats rebuffed it 11–174.
Police who nabbed Arriaga in Bakersfield regard him not as a public servant, but as a public menace. As the San Francisco Chronicle’s Evan Sernoffsky explained: “Deputies brought Singh’s handcuffs down to Kern County to place on Arriaga before he was transported to jail in Stanislaus County.”
Supporters and opponents of border security dispute whether California’s so-called sanctuary laws placed a loving force field around Arriaga.
“This is a criminal illegal alien, with prior criminal activity, that should have been reported to ICE,” Stanislaus County sheriff Adam Christianson said Friday in Modesto, Calif. “We were prohibited — law enforcement was prohibited — because of sanctuary laws, and that led to the encounter with Officer Singh” (emphasis in the original). Christianson continued: “The outcome could have been different if law enforcement wasn’t restricted, prohibited, or had their hands tied because of political interference. . . . Why are we providing sanctuary for criminals, gang members?”
But border-wall foes argue that Arriaga’s DUI arrests were in 2011 and 2014, before Sacramento Democrats — against unanimous Republican opposition — approved Senate Bill 54, the Golden State’s 2017 “sanctuary” law. While some counties and cities had parallel measures, neither Madera County nor Chowchilla were so self-encumbered.
Arriaga’s aliases and furtiveness further befogged his “sanctuary” (or, more honestly, “fugitive”) status.
However, the spirit, if not the letter, of “sanctuary” may have obscured Arriaga from federal scrutiny. Chowchilla police arrested him for speeding on June 5, 2014. He had no driver’s license, no insurance, and a blood-alcohol level exceeding the .08 percent legal limit. He also had an outstanding arrest warrant for previously driving with neither a license nor insurance.
But was he in America legally or illegally?
“As far as immigration status, I can tell you we do not ask those questions,” Chowchilla police chief David Riviere told the Chronicle. “We have no reason to.”
“Chief Riviere’s comment demonstrates that sanctuary policies, whether they are formal or de facto, enabled Arriaga to remain in the country,” Ira Mehlman of the Federation for American Immigration Reform told me. “The guy was arrested for a DUI and driving without a license. The latter strongly indicates that the driver is an illegal alien and provides reasonable grounds for police to inquire about immigration status.
“Moreover, Arriaga’s second DUI occurred after enactment of the California Trust Act (AB 4), which limited (not to the same degree as SB 54) cooperation with ICE,” Mehlman added. “It also happened after the Obama administration had issued its priority guidelines for deportation. Illegal aliens charged with/convicted of DUIs no longer were a priority. Thus, many local jurisdictions that might have called ICE decided it wasn’t worth the effort.”
While “sanctuary,” per se, might not have aided Arriaga, Chowchilla’s incuriosity about his immigration status — despite his ample rap sheet — blew a perfect opportunity to hand him to ICE for deportation as an illegal alien with everything wrong to offer America. Hence, in the ultimate contrast, Arriaga is alive, and Singh will be buried today.
The only good that emerges from this needless, stupid, tragic horror show is that Americans now have a jarringly clear view of the fork in the road on immigration: Legality, responsibility, and sacrifice or lawlessness, recklessness, and licentiousness — the latter with deadly results.
Alas, Singh’s case is painfully familiar. Among policemen wiped out by illegal aliens, “Officer Singh certainly was not the first,” the Center for Immigration Studies’s Jessica Vaughan told me. “Sacramento County sheriff’s deputy Danny Oliver and Placer County sheriff’s detective Michael Davis Jr. were murdered by Luis Bracamontes, a twice-deported illegal-alien cartel operative who laughed in court and said ‘I’m going to kill more cops soon.’ Officer Brandon Mendoza of Mesa, Arizona, was killed by Raul Silva-Corona, a wrong-way, drunk-driving illegal alien with priors. Also, Houston officer Rodney Johnson was shot by Juan Leonardo Quintero, a previously deported, criminal, illegal alien. The killer’s employer was a landscape contractor who paid his smuggling fee (and later was prosecuted by ICE for ‘harboring’).”
Such illegal-alien carnage is not limited to police officers, as the tear-inducing deaths of Rocky Jones, Sarah Root, Kate Steinle, and many others confirm. And, yet, Democrats prefer to build a wall of resistance around President Trump than a wall of protection against murderous thugs like Arriaga. Democrats still defend their blessed sanctuary laws, even as they trigger funeral after funeral.
It goes too far to say that Democrats enjoy seeing Americans die, thanks to lethal illegal aliens who breach the border and burrow into fugitive states and cities. However, Democrats’ policy choices and their quietude about the mayhem reaped by illegal-alien criminals make it fair to question their obtuseness on this life-and-death issue.
If Democrats want to convince Americans otherwise, they should end their partial shutdown of the government, authorize $5.7 billion for wall construction, and repeal SB 54 and similar pro-fugitive statutes. Until these leftists behave accordingly, Americans should assume that the Democratic party is OK with what Officer Ronil Singh suffered at the hands of Gustavo Perez Arriaga.
Editor’s Note: Michael Malarkey contributed research to this piece.