WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden announced Sheriff Ed Gonzalez of Harris County, Texas, as his nominee for director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Tuesday. He was included in a list of 11 nominations for key national security positions.
Gonzalez was elected sheriff of Harris County, Texas — one of the state’s most populous counties and home to Houston — in 2016. He manages the third largest sheriff’s office in the nation.
He has publicly criticized immigration policies instituted by the administration of former President Donald Trump. Shortly after his election, Gonzalez withdrew Harris County from a federal partnership dating to 2008 that authorized sheriff’s deputies to enforce immigration laws. The Trump administration increased the partnerships from 35 to 150, mostly in Texas and Florida.
While a sergeant in the Houston Police Department, Gonzalez condemned Trump’s commitment to mass deportations. He disavowed raids by ICE in a 2019 Facebook post.
“I do not support ICE raids that threaten to deport millions of undocumented immigrants, the vast majority of whom do not represent a threat to the U.S.,” he wrote. “The focus should always be on clear & immediate safety threats. Not others who are not threats.”
Under Gonzalez, the Harris County jail complied with an ICE request to hold suspects for up to 48 hours more often than any other facility in the country during the 12-month period that ended in September 2019.
Gonzalez’s nomination was met with approval from Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas who called for his swift confirmation in the Senate.
“Sheriff Ed Gonzalez is a strong choice for ICE Director. With a distinguished career in law enforcement and public service, Sheriff Gonzalez is well-suited to lead ICE as the agency advances our public safety and homeland security mission,” Mayorkas said in a statement released Tuesday.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday that Gonzalez is a qualified nominee.
“We encourage the Senate to not only consider but confirm qualified nominees. We certainly consider him one of them,” Psaki said during a press briefing. “The President looks forward to having someone in place in this position, and it certainly indicates a priority that we put it out today.”
Gonzalez manages a staff of 5,000 as sheriff of Harris County. If confirmed as director of ICE, he would oversee over 20,000 employees and an annual budget of $8 billion.
Contributed: The Associated Press