UPDATE: ICE has confirmed that the suspect under arrest is an illegal alien that has been deported multiple times.
ORIGINAL STORY: The wildfires devastating California’s Wine Country were deliberately set, authorities say, and they now have a suspect under arrest. And he may not have been here legally.
Jesus Fabian Gonzalez was arrested Sunday on suspicion of arson, after he was seen walking away from a newly-set fire in a wooded area in Sonoma County. Gonzalez is homeless, and while local authorities are unsure of his immigration status, ICE has issued a detainer request on him. It is unclear if ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) has additional information as to whether Gonzalez is a citizen or not, or if this is being done in an effort to keep him from getting out of jail and disappearing.
Gonzalez is being held on $110,000 bail, but if he happens to bail out, being homeless makes him a flight risk. The detainer could prevent that.
If Gonzalez is, in fact, in the country illegally, the detainer raises a serious legal question: will a “Sanctuary State” honor a detainer order in this case? Honoring detainer orders was a central issue in the creation of “sanctuary state” policies.
It should be noted that the Sonoma County fire Gonzalez allegedly set is not responsible for all of the wildfires. In total, the California wildfires have scorched tens of thousands of acres and killed 40 people so far. Sonoma County, however, has seen some wildfires destroy significant portions of its wine valley fields. An investigation is underway to see if Gonzalez has a connection to the surrounding fires.
Breitbart News reported earlier this week that Sonoma County Sheriffs had arrested Jesus Fabian Gonzalez, 29, at Maxwell Regional Park in Sonoma County after a series of reports of ongoing fires in the region. Mr. Gonzalez was observed around 3:00 p.m. PDT wearing a jacket and walking “out of the creek area and a plume of smoke behind him,” according to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.
Mr. Gonzalez, who is homeless and reportedly known by law enforcement to have been living under a nearby bridge, claimed he was cold and had lit the fire to stay warm. But it was a balmy 78 degrees when he and the plume of smoke were first observed.
Mr. Gonzalez was booked into the Sonoma County Jail for suspicion of felony arson. His bail was set at a steep $110,000, according to the Sonoma County Sheriff Public Information Officer.
Sargent Spencer Crum told Breitbart that Mr. Gonzalez is also on a U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) detainer request, despite Sonoma County declaring itself as a “sanctuary county” in May 2014. The county only cooperates with “ICE holds” if the prisoner has been convicted of a felony or any misdemeanor offense that falls within the Trust Act within the last five years. Mr. Gonzalez’s immigration status has not yet been announced.
The American Civil Liberties Union argues detainers are a violation of “unreasonable searches and seizures” under the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment.