Sanctuary Cities

Sanctuary Cities Aren't to Blame for Killing of California Cop

The suspect's previous DUI arrests didn't even put him on ICE's radar.


Gustavo Perez Arriaga
Stanislaus County Sheriff's Dept.

Gustavo Perez Arriaga, 32, an immigrant from Mexico living illegally in California, has been charged with homicide for shooting and killing a police officer during a traffic stop. This has prompted yet more debate over the state's sanctuary laws. But it's increasingly clear that those sanctuary rules aren't to blame.

Newman, California, Police Cpl. Ronil Singh pulled over Arriaga last Wednesday for suspicion of drunken driving. Arriaga is accused of shooting Singh and fleeing. He was arrested on Friday near Bakersfield following a statewide manhunt, apparently while attempting to flee back to Mexico. Seven others, including Arriaga's brother, were arrested for allegedly attempting to help him evade the police.

As this story played out, critics immediately attempted to blame California's status as a "sanctuary state," where law enforcement agencies face restrictions in cooperating or passing along information to federal immigration officials about a person's residency status. The sheriff of Stanislaus County, Adam Christianson, a Republican who embraces Donald Trump's attitudes toward immigration, held a press conference to point the finger at the state's sanctuary laws. Arriaga had previously been arrested for driving under the influence, and the implication where was that sanctuary laws somehow prevented police from communicating to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that Arriaga was some sort of threat or danger.

But there are a lot of problems with that claim. First of all, SB 54, the legislation that made California a "sanctuary state," passed in 2017 and was implemented only this year. Arriaga's previous arrests happened in 2014 in Chowchilla in Madera County. Prior to the passage of SB 54, some California cities and counties had their own sanctuary rules restricting police from passing along information about a person's immigration status except for serious crimes. But neither Madera County nor Chowchilla was among them. Indeed, Madera County officials have been accused of attempting to craft secret policies to cooperate with ICE to hand over illegal immigrants when they get detained. Not exactly what one would describe as a "sanctuary."

What seems to have actually happened is that police never asked Arriaga about his immigration status when he was arrested and charged with those previous DUIs, according to Chowchilla Police Chief David Riviere. Officials from ICE confirmed over the weekend that they had never requested that Arriaga be held for possible deportation because they had never had any encounters with him.

Sanctuary cities had nothing to do with why Arriaga was still in the United States. The reality was that he was arrested for a common crime—drunken driving—that may be a problem but was not an indication that Arriaga was violent. Now the coverage is talking about his potential gang ties, but there's still no sign of a violent history.

This attempt to make sanctuary cities the villains resembles President Trump's recent advertisement attempting to blame Democratic immigration policies for a cop-killer named Luis Bracamontes. In that case, it turned out that it was the office of then–Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a notorious border hawk, in Maricopa County, Arizona, that released the guy from custody following a drug arrest in 1998.

That doesn't mean Arpaio is responsible for Bracamontes' killings any more than sanctuary cities are responsible for what Arriaga is charged with. But it does show that even when you look closely at the most extreme cases of illegal immigrants committing violent crimes, it's difficult to find a policy silver bullet.

Sanctuary cities don't foster crime. If anything, they create an environment where immigrants are more comfortable turning to law enforcement to talk to them about crimes. Immigrant communities, even those with people in the country here illegally, are not incubators of criminal activity.

Related: ReasonTV's Zach Weissmueller explored what conservatives and restrictionists get wrong about immigration when it was a big campaign issue in the 2016 election. Watch below:

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  1. So in that other other other other other thread I made the judgementless observation that sparky seems to constantly be scolding people, and the not very bright Fagamammon proved he doesn’t know the difference between scolding someone and observing thwir behavior.

    It was deeply embarassing for both the scold, sparky, and the idiot, fagamammon.

    Then, agamoron, even after having the difference explained, came into another thread and cried like a bitch and incorrectly claimed I was scolding him.

    His stupidity in not knowing the difference even after having it explained should tell you just how profoundly retarded he is.

    1. Try to stay on topic, please. I only have an hour or so to read comments.

      1. Ok.

        Ecoli stupidly thinks other people make him read things.

        How’s that?

    2. Coming up …. SIX!

      1. Why are you keeping track of how many times you’ve whined like a bitch at me?

    3. His stupidity in not knowing the difference even after having it explained should tell you just how profoundly retarded he is.

      Yet it doesn’t tell us anything of the sort; it does tell us how profoundly fixated Tulpa is on a big nothing burger of his own imagination.

      1. Really it tells us that you’ll cry over basically anything.

  2. The sanctuary laws in Cali are not to blame. Obviously, we need more illegal aliens because they commit crimes at lower rates than natives. If only we could crowd out the natives and replace them with illegals, we could lower the crime rate even further!

    1. Nice job of puncturing the “lower crime rate” balloon. Arriaga obviously took the jerbs of two U.S. citizens who would have killed a cop if not for his presence here illegally.

      1. So you’re saying he created a law enforcement job that would have taken 2 citizens to create?

    2. Most crimes are committed by the children of poor people. Most welfare is collected by the children of poor people too. Sterilization for poor people. Plus lower middle class just to be safe.

  3. Scott,

    You neglected to mention that Mr. Arriaga is a member of the Surenos street gang.

    1. Typical of a Reason article on illegals.

  4. Well they do harbor illegals that shouldn’t be here though…

  5. You know, Reason (and the Left, too) really needs to get over the whole “People who don’t like illegal immigrants are SO MEAN” thing. Because a big part of the sullen attitude of the anti-wetback side stems from the sense they have that they have been patronized, lied to, and generally ignored for decades. Illegal immigration is a problem, and not a simple one. But the first thing that needs to be done is start using realistic terms instead of euphemisms.

    1) Illegal Immigrants are not ‘undocumented immigrants’. They are illegal aliens. Whatever their intentions they are in the country illegally. Period.

    2) Saying that they are less criminal than the general population is idiotic. They are ALL criminals. Maybe the law is unjust, but let’s not pretend they haven’t broken it.

    3) Because they are all criminals, they form a ‘grey market’ kind of subculture in which worse things can hide.

    4) Mexico is a failed State, and its failure is leaking across the border. For various reasons, the old solution for this (Conquest) is off the table. So an effective border is necessary, or at least looks pretty goddamned necessary.

    Open Borders is a nice ideal. If the world was generally full of non-hostile people, and decently run States, it might be possible. As the current mess in Europe might tend to indicate this just ain’t so.

    1. I share your disdain for political correctness.

      That’s why I call a half-educated malcontent a half-educated malcontent, a disaffected bigot a disaffected bigot, a superstitious rube a superstitious rube, and an economically irrelevant, gullible, stale-thinking, right-wing rural yahoo an ardent Trump supporter.

      Accuracy has become an important virtue.

      1. Accuracy has ALWAYS been an important virtue. And few politicians have ever embraced it. The Democrats in particular have shunned it at least since they decided to revere Woodrow Wilson instead of admitting he was a boringly incompetent elitist bigot with Confederate sympathies.

        And, bad as Trump may be, he isn’t a pathologically untruthful career criminal married to a serial rapist.

        1. Correct, he actually IS the serial rapist and pathologically untruthful career criminal.

          1. Rapist? Has anyone credible made an accusation?

            Please keep your criticisms of Trump within reasonable bounds. Is he a mountebank? Almost certainly. A lot of Presidents have been. Could he reasonably be compared to Huey Long or William Tweed? Sure.

            So far the highest his ‘sex scandal’ index has risen is he is serially unfaithful, and vulgar. He appears to have limited himself to women who were, so to say, in the business…or at least on it’s fringe. Not a great recommendation for a POTUS, but a lot better than Bubba Clinton, who has credibly been accused of actual rape.

            As for the assertion that he is ‘Literally (that disgusting Austrian)’ or a Nazi; this trivializes the monstrosity of the Nazi regime and the Holocaust. It isn’t even close to true, and if it were the people guilty of making the accusation would be hiding under their beds, pissing themselves.

            In 2016 the Democrat Party, for whatever reason, nominated a woman with negative charisma, a history of criminal (or at the very least extremely stupid) behavior, and unspecific but apparently serious health problems. She proceeded to gratuitously insult the supporters of her opposition, thereby ensuring that they would ALL turn up at the polls. And she ran one of the most lackluster campaigns in history.

            At least half the outrage over Trump is hysterical avoidance of these facts. The Powers That (WOULD) Be really don’t want to do anything that might threaten their position, like THINK.

            1. “Rapist? Has anyone credible made an accusation?”



              Lots of information out there in this subject.

      2. Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland|12.31.18 @ 3:42PM|#
        “I share your disdain for political correctness.”
        Me, too.

        “That’s why I call a half-educated malcontent a half-educated malcontent, a disaffected bigot ….”
        Me, too, you half-educated, self-righteous, lefty asshole.

        “Accuracy has become an important virtue.”

      3. You shouldn’t be so hard on yourself, Rev.

  6. Look, since in 2018 its all about symbolism and signaling, any details about when and where sanctuary BS and law enforcement actions happened do not count. Calistan promotes an open borders and don’t be mean to criminals policy. This fucktard played DUI roulette multiple times and then killed a person (with a GUN!) so he is a certifiable Bad Person. Said BP should not/would not be in the US with stricter immigration policy and enforcement, so Team Sanctuary loses.

  7. If the illegal was not in the USA, he would not have the opportunity to kill an American cop.

    Every illegal is a criminal and inside that group of people who dont give a shit about American Rule of Law is a subset of illegals that have no problem committing more serious crimes.

    1. It’s even worse. The illegals who come from Mexico (and to varying degrees from South and Central American countries) are used to a society in which the Law is routinely ignored, and the agents of the government (like cops) are justifiably considered the natural enemies of the common folk.

  8. My God these ppl are disgusting. A police officer is dead, a family is devastated and will NEVER be the same and this writer has the audacity to argue semantics?


    1. For too many people in positions of authority, words are far more important than deeds. #HashtagPartisans.

    2. It reall y outs the “no matter what”. Into “open borders no matter what”

  9. “Sanctuary cities don’t foster crime.”

    They foster the crime of being in the country illegally.

    Which IS a crime regardless of the opinions of the open borders crowd that that particular crime isn’t supposed to “count” as a crime.

    As for other types of crime, I doubt that Shackford has any evidence for his declarative claim.

  10. Actually, everyone who facilitated the illegal alien’s residence in the U.S. is complicit in the murder, not to mention those he didn’t manage to commit behind the wheel.

  11. Reason 2019. Apologists for drunk Illegal aliens, driving around with illegal guns, gunning down legal immigrant LOE’s. You A$% have no shame.

  12. If we had Border security, there would be no need of sanctuary cities.

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  14. Did anyone in that illegal sanctuary community feel “comfortable” talking to the cops about this scumbag in their midst?

  15. Sophistry.

    Accepting the facts as presented here, the murder was allowed by policing policies which discouraged inquiry about immigration status.

    Separating “no inquiry about immigration status” from “sanctuary state” requires some real convolution.

  16. “What seems to have actually happened is that police never asked Arriaga about his immigration status when he was arrested”

    Didn’t courts rule that to be illegal racial profiling?

  17. “Sanctuary cities don’t foster crime. If anything, they create an environment where immigrants are more comfortable turning to law enforcement to talk to them about crimes”

    Mr. Shackford makes the above assertion but in the same article says “Seven others, including Arriaga’s brother, were arrested for allegedly attempting to help him evade the police.”

    Not enforcing the law is anarchy and sanctuary cites are not enforcing the law. If you don’t like the law there’s a process to change it.

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