President Donald Trump has spoken to the family and former colleagues of the Newman police officer who was shot to death during a Dec. 26 traffic stop by an alleged Mexican national accused of living in the U.S. illegally.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says Trump praised Cpl. Ronil Singh’s service and offered condolences to his wife, Amanika “Mika” Chand-Singh, during a phone call.

The president also spoke with Newman Police Chief Randy Richardson and Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson.

Trump Continues to Seek Border Wall Funding

The calls come as the White House has been trying to highlight the dangers of illegal immigration. Trump is attempting to rally support for his long-stalled border wall.

Trump is demanding $5 billion toward building it, but House and Senate Democrats have refused to approve the wall funding.

The impasse has caused a partial federal government shutdown that was in its 13th day Thursday.

Stanislaus Sheriff Blames Singh’s Killing on Sanctuary State Law

In a news conference last Friday in Modesto to announce the arrest near Bakersfield of 32-year old Gustavo Perez Arriaga, a Mexican national, Christianson said if not for SB 54, Singh may still be alive.

“This could have been preventable. Under SB 54 in California, based on two arrests for DUI and some other active warrants this criminal has out there, law enforcement would have been prevented, prohibited from sharing the information with ICE about this criminal gang member,” Christianson said.

De Leon Defends SB 54

However, Kevin de León, the former state senator who authored SB 54, defended the law in the wake of Singh’s killing.

De León criticized Christianson for playing politics, even though the sheriff said he wasn’t.

“If there were active warrants on this individual, he should have physically been in custody prior to this tragic shooting,” de León told KCBS radio in San Francisco, shortly after Christianson’s SB 54 assertions.

De León said he hopes that Arriaga is successfully prosecuted and spends the rest of his life in prison, but said SB 54 is legal and valid.

Court Orders Mental Evaluation of Charged Suspect

Perez Arriaga’s attorney, Stephen Foley, questioned his client’s mental competency, leading the court on Wednesday to delay the case until the suspect gets a mental health evaluation.

Photo of crowd outside of Stanislaus County courthouse in Modesto

People hold flags and signs Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019, outside the Stanislaus County Superior courthouse in Modesto, Calif., where formal charges were filed against Gustavo Perez Arriaga in the Dec. 26, 2018, shooting death of Newman Police Cpl. Ronil Singh. (Andy Alfaro/The Modesto Bee via AP)

(Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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