After Deadly Fires, Sonoma Sheriff and ICE Go to War

Immigration and Customs officials are placing the blame for a recent spate of deadly fires on sanctuary policies in Sonoma County. Sonoma County Sheriff Rob Giordano is accusing ICE of politicizing a tragedy with baseless innuendo.

It all began Oct. 15 after the arrest of Jesus Fabian Gonzalez, a homeless immigrant accused of starting a fire in Maxwell Farms Park in the Sonoma Valley. Gonzalez had been deported to Mexico twice and arrested four times over the past year in Sonoma County, ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan said. “After each arrest, the federal agency filed a detainer against him,” according to the L.A. Times.  “But, [Homan] said, ICE was never notified of his releases.”

Sonoma County officials have “left their community vulnerable to dangerous individuals and preventable crimes” with sanctuary city policies, Homan added.

A Breitbart report has claimed that Gonzalez is the person responsible for setting the fires that killed 42 people and destroyed nearly 10,000 homes in northern California. Giordano says that’s not true.

“There is a story out there that he’s the arsonist in these fires. 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.”

Giordano also shot back at immigration officials for appearing to give the story credence.

“ICE attacked the Sheriff’s Office in the midst of the largest natural disaster this county has ever experienced,” Giordano said. “ICE’s misleading statement stirs fear in some of our community members who are already exhausted and scared.”

Just how massive has California’s recent spate of wildfires been? SF Gate provides some mind blowing comparisons to highlight the unimaginable scale.

Fires in northern California, Orange County and other parts of the state have charred more than 330-square miles so far. That’s equivalent to:

• All five boroughs of New York City

• Twice the size of New Orleans, Louisiana

• One-fourth the size of Rhode Island

• The size of San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento and Fresno combined


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