The man arrested in connection with setting a fire in Sonoma County, Calif., is a Mexican illegal alien who’s been deported twice, according to ICE, but local officials say it was a small fire in a park that’s separate from the massive inferno plaguing the region.
Breitbart News reports that acting ICE director Tom Homan confirmed that the agency has issued a detainer request for Jesus Fabian Gonzalez five times in the past 12 months.
Sonoma is a so-called “sanctuary jurisdiction,” meaning it does not fully cooperate with federal immigration authorities in processing illegal aliens for deportation.
ICE Director: Suspected Wine Country Arsonist Is Illegal Alien Mexican National https://t.co/XAzyQXmeF9
— Michelle Moons (@MichelleDiana) October 19, 2017
“Once again, a non-cooperative jurisdiction has left their community vulnerable to dangerous individuals and preventable crimes,” Homan said in a statement. “Over the past year, ICE has lodged detainers against Mr. Gonzalez after four separate arrests by Sonoma County on various felony and misdemeanor charges. ICE was never notified of Mr. Gonzalez’ various releases. Additionally, Mr. Gonzales has been returned to his home country of Mexico on two separate occasions.”
However, local officials pushed back against claims that he was the cause of the massive blaze.
“There is a story out there that he’s the arsonist in these fires,” Sonoma County Sheriff Rob Giordano said at a press conference Tuesday. “That’s not the case. There’s no indication he’s related to these fires at all. … I wanted to kill that speculation right now, so we didn’t have things running too far out of control.”
As of Wednesday, several dozen people remained missing in Sonoma County. There are also wildfires in Napa, Mendocino, Lake, Butte and several other parts of Northern California.
Fires in the region over the past week have destroyed thousands of structures and led to some of the worst air quality in the Bay Area in history.
Gonzales is currently being held in Sonoma County jail on a $100,000 bond.
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