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San Joaquin Valley Sheriffs Blame 'Sanctuary State' Laws For December Murders

Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department Facebook
Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson held a press conference on December 28, 2018 alongside Newman City Police Chief Randy Richardson and members of Ronil Singh's family to discuss the case.

Two murders were allegedly committed by immigrants in the San Joaquin Valley last December, and some county sheriffs are blaming California's "sanctuary state" law for the crimes.

The day after Christmas in Stanislaus County, Newman City police officer Ronil Singh was shot and killed after pulling someone over who was suspected of drunken driving. The murder was followed by a manhunt to find the shooter. The suspect, Gustavo Perez Arriaga, was later arrested in Kern County. Arriaga was in the country illegally, and had two previous DUIs.

Earlier, in mid-December, another immigrant named Gustavo Garcia was arrested in Tulare County for being under the influence of a controlled substance. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had asked county sheriffs to continue detaining Garcia, but Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreax said that under SB 54, Tulare County couldn't comply. Garcia was released, and soon after, commited robbery and murder, and lead deputies on a highway chase before dying in a car crash. 

Boudreaux has blamed California's "sanctuary state" law for not allowing the department to comply with certain requests from ICE, which he says may have prevented crimes Garcia committed in Tulare County. Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson has also blamed the law for the murder of Ronil Singh.


Central Valley Reporter Alex Hall has been reporting on the death of Ronil Singh for member station KQED. Listen to the interview above to hear what authorities know about Arriaga, and how local, state and national leaders have weighed in on the issue.

Laura Tsutsui was a reporter and producer for Valley Public Radio. She joined the station in 2017 as a news intern, and later worked as a production assistant and weekend host. Laura covered local issues ranging from politics to housing, and produced the weekly news program Valley Edition. She left the station in November 2020.
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