Victor Davis Hanson
We talk nonchalantly of an open border, of “comprehensive immigration reform.” But we forget there are lives of the innocent transformed and sometimes wrecked by allowing thousands of foreign nationals without audit to enter the U.S. illegally and to reside here unlawfully, while we the host has lost all confidence in assimilating, integrating, and instructing immigrants into American customs and traditions.
The depressing statistics and data of illegal alien criminality are not abstractions, but reflect real-life tragedies that citizens suffer daily in coping with millions who have entered their country illegally and without audit. Here is one set of examples from California’s Central Valley over the 2018 holidays that reminded us of the baleful wages of illegal immigration in general—and of California’s sanctuary-city laws, in particular, which restrict formal cooperation between local and state law enforcement with federal immigration authorities in matters of deporting illegal aliens under detention.
In the first case, one Gustavo Garcia, a previously deported 36-year-old illegal alien, murdered a 51-year-old Visalia resident on December 17, 2018. He shot and killed a random victim, Rocky Jones, at a gas station about 15 miles from my home. Garcia apparently had been arrested two days prior and released—under both lax parole laws and sanctuary-city exemptions.
Garcia entered the U.S. illegally in 1998. He was deported for a second time in 2014. He had also been charged with at least three immigration violations since illegally returning to the U.S., and had been a convicted felon since at least 2002 for assaults with a deadly weapon, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, possession of a controlled substance, etc. In addition to the murder of Jones, Garcia shot a farm laborer who was on a ladder working. He then followed a woman to her car at a Motel 6 and shot her too. At the beginning of his violent spree, Garcia also murdered Rolando Soto, 38, of nearby Lindsay.
Indeed, Garcia had been a suspect in a number of prior shootings and thefts. During his final rampage, Garcia tried to shoot his ex-girlfriend. He then stole a truck from farmworkers and led police on a chase, deliberately veering into opposing traffic, and by intent injuring four more innocents, one critically. During the chase, he fired on police, who returned fire, before Garcia finally wrecked the stolen vehicle and perished in the crash. The local sheriff of Tulare County, in understated fashion, labeled Garcia’s violent spasm of shootings and car wrecks a “reign of terror.” Garcia had an accomplice who remained at large.
Local law enforcement in our environs blamed state sanctuary laws for their restrictions on the ability to notify ICE that the felonious illegal alien Garcia was about to be released among the general public.
Or as the sheriff put it, “Gustavo Garcia would have been turned over to ICE officials. That’s how we’ve always done it, day in and day out. But after SB 54 [California Senate Bill #54, misnamed “The California Values Act”], we no longer have the power to do that. Under the new state law, we must have a ‘federally signed warrant’ in order to do that. We didn’t honor the detainer because state law doesn’t allow us to.” One wonders, however, why the local district attorney’s office had not charged Garcia with a number of crimes, and given his histories, asked for steep bail.
Less than two weeks later in the 2018 holiday season, there was yet another example of Central Valley illegal-immigration mayhem. To the north in Newman, another twice-deported illegal alien, Gustavo Perez Arriaga (he apparently had a number of aliases), stood accused of shooting and killing Newman policeman Ronil Singh, who had pulled him over on suspicion of drunk driving (Arriaga also had two prior DUIs).
Arriaga fled after murdering Officer Singh and evaded law enforcement for a few days thanks to at least seven enablers (brothers, girlfriend, friends, etc.), some of them confirmed also to be illegal aliens. They either gave police officials false information about Arriaga’s whereabouts or helped him on a planned flight to Mexico, which was finally aborted 200 miles to the south near Bakersfield.
The suspect’s brother, 25-year-old Adrian Virgen, and a co-worker, 32-year-old Erik Razo Quiroz, were arrested on “accessory after the fact” charges for attempting to protect Arriaga. Authorities reported both men were also in the country illegally. Arriaga was at large for five days, also in part because he had so many fake identities and aliases that no one knew really who he was.
Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson noted that SB54 prevents departments “from sharing any information with ICE about this criminal gang member.” He added, “this is a criminal illegal alien with prior criminal activity that should have been reported to ICE.” Christianson finished, “Law enforcement was prohibited because of sanctuary laws and that led to the encounter with Officer 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.”
These incidents, and less violent ones like them, are scarcely rare in rural California, or generally in the United States. The narratives are tragically similar and hinge on our society’s assumptions of tolerance and its belief that entering and living illegally in the United States is not really a crime—an attitude of legal exemption not extended to citizens. This differential approach, one might think, violates the Constitutional guarantee of equal protection of the law—even more so than the same principle that criminalizes invidious racial or chauvinistic sex discrimination.
Fraudulent identification and fake names among immigrants living illegally in the U.S. are so often not treated as real felonies, even though the law says that they are, and the consequences of such evasions can be terrible. Driving under the influence may be no reason for deportation. Yet all are crimes that can ruin careers and have expensive and even lethal consequences for our fellow citizens like Rocky Jones, Ronil Singh, and Rolando Soto.