Following the murder of Corporal Ronil Singh, elected officials and law enforcement leaders across California are pointing to legislation friendly to illegal immigrants as the reason an illegal immigrant was able to murder the officer in cold blood.
 - Image courtesy of Newman Police Department / Facebook. 

Following the murder of Corporal Ronil Singh, elected officials and law enforcement leaders across California are pointing to legislation friendly to illegal immigrants as the reason an illegal immigrant was able to murder the officer in cold blood.

Image courtesy of Newman Police Department / Facebook. 

In the early morning hours on the day after Christmas 2018, a 33-year-old officer with the Newman (CA) Police Department was conducting a DUI traffic stop on a driver in a gray pickup truck when the suspect suddenly opened fire, striking the officer.

Corporal Ronil Singh was able to return fire, but the gunman fled the scene, launching a massive manhunt throughout the west.

Singh was transported to a local hospital where he later succumbed to his wounds.

Corporal Singh was a native of Fiji who immigrated to the United States with the dream of becoming a police officer. He became a naturalized American citizen, studied criminal justice at Modesto Junior College, and began working at the 12-officer Newman PD in 2011.

In a Facebook post, Singh's uncle described his nephew as an "adventurous and beautiful soul" who was "a great role model for our next generation of Indo-Americans."

Singh is survived by his wife, five-month-old child, and extended family living both in the United States and Fiji.

The gunman—identified as 32-year-old Gustavo Perez Arriaga—remained at large for two full days before being apprehended in the small town of Lamont, just east of Bakersfield. Seven others were also arrested—all expected to be charged with accessory after the fact and/or aiding and abetting.

Cop-killer Gustavo Perez Arriaga is an illegal immigrant affiliated with the nefarious Surenos gang.

Perez Arriaga reportedly had two prior arrests for DUI.

Due to the circumstances of the incident—an immigrant who entered this country legally and became a police officer, slain by an illegal immigrant gang member—the already impassioned argument over immigration enforcement has exploded in the Golden State and beyond.

A Heated Debate

Following Corporal Singh's murder, elected officials and law enforcement leaders across California pointed to legislation—considered by many to be friendly to illegal immigrants—as the reason an illegal immigrant was able to murder that officer in cold blood.

Passed in 2017, California SB-54 prohibits local authorities from sharing information with ICE about certain criminal activity committed by undocumented immigrants.

SB-54 also prohibits ICE agents from being deployed in California jails.

"We can't ignore the fact that this could have been preventable," Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson said.

California Congressman Devin Nunes said, "The California left—which is famous for its self-destructive policies—has engineered 'sanctuary city' laws that make it impossible to defend our communities from some of the nation's most dangerous criminal predators."

Others stood firm in their defense of so-called 'sanctuary' laws like SB-54.

Supporters said that the purpose of such legislation is to protect illegal immigrants who have been victims of crimes—allowing them to report crimes to police without fear of repercussion over their undocumented status.

Their argument is that law-abiding undocumented immigrants fearful of the police asking about their immigration status might be less likely to report crimes and cooperate with investigations.

This is certainly a plausible line of thinking.

However, at what point does protection of people who have committed no crime—other than illegally entering the country, WHICH MOST CERTAINLY IS a CRIME—help to harbor dangerous career criminals in this country illegally?

Facts Over Feelings

It is an undisputable fact that a significant number of gang members—including Surenos, Nortenos, MS-13, Latin Kings, and others—are in this country illegally. Many have been deported numerous times, only to return to continue their criminal activities on American streets.

Heather MacDonald—of the Manhattan Institute—noted that a California Department of Justice study found in 1995 that 60 percent of the 20,000-strong 18th Street Gang in southern California is in this country illegally.

That was in the 1990s!

Imagine those numbers today.

MacDonald wrote that sanctuary laws "place a higher priority on protecting illegal aliens from deportation than on protecting legal immigrants and citizens from assault, rape, arson, and other crimes."

The immigration argument continues—seemingly in perpetuity with no real opportunity for compromise—with the political left and the political right leaving no air in the room for the American people whose politics are far closer to the middle.

The question becomes: Is a rational, reasonable approach to immigration enforcement possible?

Probably not—the country is just too divided to settle the issue somewhere in the middle—but allow the 'eternal optimist' and 'wishful thinker' in me to at least make a couple of simple suggestions.

The World is Grey

I humbly ask you—gentle reader—to check your politics at the door for the remainder of this column.

Let's first accept the fact that the United States of America is a highly desirable place to live. It is certainly more desirable than many of the "vacation spots" in Central and South America, where lawlessness and mayhem are the norm.

It stands to reason, then, that people will make every effort to leave the chaos of their native land behind, and gamble on breaching our border undetected.

Many are successful.

Many are not.

Let's also agree that the overwhelming majority of the people entering this country illegally are not "rapists and criminals"—they are people looking for a better life. They are migrant farmers and child-care workers. They eagerly join the workforce, and work as hard as they can to provide for their families.

Other than the law that they broke to get into the United States—and not to put too fine a point on it, that's a Federal offense—these folks generally keep their heads down, obeying the speed limit and keeping their hands to themselves.

They are—I say with no mirth or irreverence—"model citizens."

If these people can show definitive proof that they are productive members of society—holding jobs and paying taxes—they should not fear reporting a crime or going to the emergency room will result in their deportation.

Cop: "Your car was stolen? Okay, we'll look for it. Meanwhile, you should contact your insurance company."

Victim: "Gracias, senior."

Cop: "You need medical attention. We'll get EMS en route now. Meanwhile, take it easy. Help is on the way."

Victim: "Thanks, man."

That having been said, we must also all accept that there are criminals in this country illegally who have no place being here.

There are countless undocumented criminals who make it their daily mission to victimize and terrorize innocents.

These people are not just the abovementioned gang members—they're also small-time crooks and drunk drivers—and they should be shown the door.

Any illegal immigrant arrested for a crime beyond jaywalking should potentially "face the music" with ICE—especially for a second offense.

The bar could be set in increments—minor traffic violations and misdemeanor property crime could be treated differently than violent offenses or DUI drivers.

Members of known criminal gangs here illegally should be deported immediately and without exception. And if those subjects show up again on American soil, they should get a five year sentence—no parole.

Certainly, offenders like Gustavo Perez Arriaga have no place in this country. Had he been deported following his previous DUI arrests, his contact with Corporal Ronil Singh would have never happened.

Finding the Middle

Admittedly, the solution I propose needs more structure than I provide in this opus, but you get the idea.

I believe that we can get there if the American electorate finally stops shouting each other down—with each "side" treasuring short-term political victory over long-term societal pragmatism—and comes together to fix what's broken.  

Many people discuss immigration enforcement in terms of polar extremes—with intransigent views of the extreme right and the extreme left cemented in "black and white" perspectives.

But the fact of the matter is that the world is grey and real life is lived in the middle.

Every day, cops rely on 'officer discretion' to solve complex problems and bring peaceful resolutions to a wide variety of situations.

Maybe we can apply that same concept to immigration enforcement.

I know, I know, I know—wishful thinking from an eternal optimist.

Author

Doug Wyllie
Doug Wyllie

Web Editor

Doug Wyllie has authored more than 1,000 articles and tactical tips aimed at ensuring that police officers are safer and more successful on the streets. Doug is a Western Publishing Association “Maggie Award” winner for Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column. He is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers’ Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

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Doug Wyllie has authored more than 1,000 articles and tactical tips aimed at ensuring that police officers are safer and more successful on the streets. Doug is a Western Publishing Association “Maggie Award” winner for Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column. He is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers’ Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

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