Sheriff Ed Gonzalez has in the past criticized the Trump administration’s policy on deporting undocumented migrants.
President Joe Biden on Tuesday appointed the sheriff of one of the nation’s most populous counties to serve as the director of an agency that deports undocumented immigrants from the United States. The president’s choice fell on an experienced law enforcement officer, who at one time sharply criticized the tough immigration policy pursued by the administration of Donald Trump.
Ed Gonzalez, the sheriff of Harris County, whose jurisdiction includes the city of Houston, the largest agglomeration in Texas, was appointed director of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a federal agency whose head senators could not confirm since 2017.
After being elected to the sheriff’s office in 2016, Gonzalez fulfilled his campaign promise and withdrew Harris County from the federal agreement that empowers sheriff’s deputies to enforce immigration laws.
Gonzalez, who worked for the Houston Police Department for 18 years, sharply criticized Trump when the then-president promised to deport millions of people.
“I do not support ICE-led raids threatening to deport millions of undocumented immigrants, the vast majority of whom do not pose a threat to the US,” he wrote on Facebook in July 2019. “The focus should always be on the immediate security threat, not those who do not pose a threat.”
Gonzalez then expressed concern that “undocumented families are moving further into the shadows,” which does not allow them to report crimes to the authorities.
If confirmed by the Senate, Gonzalez would oversee an agency with more than 20,000 employees and an annual budget of $ 8 billion. ICE operates the world’s largest network of immigration prisons and includes the National Security Investigation Service, which handles a wide range of international crimes, including money laundering, antique theft, child pornography, and people smuggling.