In some of the many editorials we have written in the past about the myriad challenges produced by illegal immigration, we have expressed compassion for DACA beneficiaries and for children separated from parents at America's border with Mexico.
Today, we extend our compassion to the family and colleagues of Ronil Singh.
Singh, a member of the Newman (California) Police Department, was shot and killed early on Dec. 26 when he pulled a vehicle over under suspicion of drunken driving.
The suspect arrested for Singh's murder two days later, Gustavo Perez Arriaga, was living in the U.S. illegally. According to published reports, he had been arrested twice before for driving under the influence and was a known gang member. In fact, according to Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson, whose agency is leading the investigation of Singh's murder, Arriaga boasted on social media about his gang involvement.
Christianson said "sanctuary" laws in California contributed to Singh's death.
“This is a criminal illegal alien with prior criminal activity that should have been reported to ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement),” Christianson said last month. “Law enforcement was prohibited because of sanctuary laws and that led to the encounter with Officer Singh … the outcome could have been different if law enforcement wasn’t restricted ..."
"Sanctuary" jurisdictions (more than 200 cities, counties and states) limit, through laws or policies, the extent to which law enforcement and other employees will go to assist the federal government on immigration enforcement.
In a piece written for the Washington Examiner in reaction to the murder of Singh, former Border Patrol and ICE special agent Jason Piccolo said sanctuary laws "tie the hands of the police."
"These laws were set in place to directly impede any contact from the police with ICE," Piccolo wrote. "In the case of gang member and accused killer Gustavo Arriaga, the police easily could have had ICE encounter him and remove him based on his previous arrests and warrants."
We ourselves can't say with any degree of certainty if "sanctuary" laws resulted in the killing of Singh, but we have stated our opposition to these laws in this space before. In our view, all levels of government, from local to federal, should be partners in enforcement of laws, including immigration laws, and protection of the public.
Our position on public safety applies to what we believe is the essential need for improved border security, as well.
Last summer, following the arrest of an undocumented worker in the abduction and murder of Iowan Mollie Tibbetts, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, spoke on the floor of the Senate about the need for stronger border security and strong enforcement of immigration laws.
"During fiscal year 2017, ICE arrested more than 127,000 aliens with criminal convictions or charges," Grassley said. "ICE made 5,225 administrative arrests of suspected gang members. Last year, the criminal aliens arrested by ICE were responsible for more than: 76,000 dangerous drug offenses; 48,000 assault offenses; 11,000 weapon offenses; 5,000 sexual offenses; 2,000 kidnapping offenses; and 1,800 homicide offenses."
Those numbers and the tragic death of Singh speak, again, to the need for comprehensive immigration reform. Our nation's illegal immigration mess, with all of its attendant complexities, results from lack of leadership in Washington, D.C.
Decision-makers must stop arguing, finger-pointing and demagoguing and start talking to one another in meaningful, bipartisan fashion. Until then, the chaos will continue.