U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Acting Director Tom Homan confirmed on Thursday that a man arrested in connection with setting a fire in Sonoma County Wine Country is an illegal alien from Mexico who has been twice returned to his “home country.”
Homan also confirmed that ICE has issued detainer requests for Jesus Fabian Gonzalez five times now in the past year alone, including the one issued on October 16 in relation to his most recent arrest on suspicion of arson. All of the arrests were made “by Sonoma County on various felony and misdemeanor charges,” according to Homan.
Sonoma County is considered a sanctuary jurisdiction and does not fully cooperate with federal immigration officials. That includes not honoring ICE detainer requests. “ICE was never notified of Mr. Gonzalez’ various releases,” Homan wrote in the statement regarding Gonzalez.
There were several fires in the region, and it is not clear what role the fires Gonzales allegedly set played in the overall disaster.
Homan’s public statement highlights the lack of cooperation from Sonoma County officials and the devastating wildfires that have ravaged the region:
Once again, a non-cooperative jurisdiction has left their community vulnerable to dangerous individuals and preventable crimes. ICE lodged a detainer against Jesus Gonzalez with Sonoma County jail officials on October 16, following his arrest on felony charges for maliciously setting fire to a property. This is especially troubling in light of the massive wildfires already devastating the region. 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. The residents of Sonoma County, and the state of California, deserve better than policies that expose them to avoidable dangers. Non-cooperation policies – now enshrined in California state law – ensure only one thing: criminals who would otherwise be deported will be released and left free to reoffend as they please.
California Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed into law a bill that makes California a sanctuary state.