Sonil Singh is gone for good because Gustavo Perez Arriaga shot him dead, officials say. This tale of two immigrants finds Singh and Arriaga as the apotheoses of how Republicans and Democrats respectively see immigration.
Singh, 33, was the kind of immigrant whom Republicans champion. 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.”
Alas, Ronil Singh is dead. Arriaga allegedly shot him while under the influence after Singh stopped him for a missing license plate.
Singh is survived by his wife Anamika, a 5-month-old son, and Sam, his black Labrador Retriever K-9 partner. 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 the kind of immigrant Democrats welcome. He came to America from Mexico — illegally. He crossed the “border,” via Arizona, which Democrats itch to erase. Senate Democrat leader Chuck Schumer of New York and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California reportedly refused even to listen to a classified briefing on border security in the White House Situation Room on Wednesday. Among all the Democrats in Congress last month, only Senator Doug Jones of Alabama backed $5.7 billion in border fortifications.
Arriaga had two previous DUI arrests and also belonged to the Sureño street gang. But this doesn’t trouble Democrats, either. 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 reviled it 11 – 174.
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, California. “We were prohibited — law enforcement was prohibited — because of sanctuary laws, and that led to the encounter with Officer Singh.”
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 an illegal blood-alcohol level exceeding .08 percent. 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 San Francisco Chronicle.
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 Saturday.
The only good that emerges from this needless, stupid horror is that America now has a jarringly clear choice between how Republicans and Democrat see immigration in 2019: Legality, responsibility, and sacrifice versus lawlessness, recklessness, and licentiousness — the latter with deadly results.