In one of his last speeches as governor of California, Democrat Jerry Brown hit back at critics of his pet "sanctuary state" legislation who blame the now-former governor's lenient immigration policies for the tragic shooting death of police officer Ronil Singh.
Singh was killed during a routine traffic stop in late December. Singh, a legal immigrant, pulled over a driver he suspected of being under the influence of alcohol, only to find the driver, Gustavo Perez Arriaga, was armed. Arriaga opened fire, killing Singh, and then fled, leading California authorities on a two-day cross-state manhunt.
Arriaga, who was eventually captured along with seven other people who aided and abetted him in eluding police, is an illegal immigrant who was allowed to stay in the state, reportedly because of Brown's "sanctuary state" policies, even after several arrests and at least two separate DUI convictions, according to the Washington Examiner.
Brown, who has been open about his own pro-immigration sentiments, called the suggestion that Singh died as a result of his "sanctuary" policies, a distraction.
"I think people now are looking to blame somebody because of the terrible things that happened," Brown told media, "but it had nothing to do with the law of California."
That's not how the law enforcement officials involved in investigating Singh's death and bringing his alleged killer to justice see it. Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson, who was in charge of the investigation, was clear in the wake of Arriaga's capture — in the absence of Brown's sanctuary state policies, Arriaga would not have been returned to the streets following his several run-ins with police.
"This is a criminal illegal alien with prior criminal activity that should have been reported to ICE,” the sheriff told a press conference last week. “We were prohibited, law enforcement was prohibited because of sanctuary laws, and that led to the encounter with Singh."
“I’m suggesting that the outcome could have been different if law enforcement wasn’t restricted, prohibited or had their hands tied because of political interference," he added.
“Why are we providing sanctuary for criminals, gang members?” the sheriff concluded. “It’s a conversation we need to have.”
Christanson pointed directly to a state-level policy that he says "tied law enforcement's hands" when dealing with Arriaga, even though Arriaga had multiple arrests, had been in jail several times, and had two previous convictions for driving under the influence.
Brown contends that his sanctuary policies allow illegal immigrants, who are themselves the victims of crimes, to feel safe in reporting those crimes to police.
Brown packed up and left the California governor's office on Monday, ceding the post to former San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom. Brown's only advice for the incoming Newsom during the Monday morning transition of power was, "don't screw it up."