Biden administration nominates Harris County sheriff to lead ICE

Harris County’s top cop is headed to Washington D.C. The Biden administration announced that it will nominate Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez to serve as the head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Gonzalez was elected Harris County Sheriff in 2016 and reelected in 2020. With 5,000 employees, Harris County has the largest sheriff’s department in Texas and the third largest nationally. Prior to being elected sheriff, Gonzalez spent 18 years with the Houston Police Department and served three terms on Houston City Council.

“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,” Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement. “I hope the Senate will swiftly confirm Sheriff Gonzalez to this critical position.”

Nominating Gonzalez is another sign that the Biden administration intends to change ICE operations compared to the Trump administration. Gonzalez withdrew the department from ICE’s voluntary 287(g) program that tasked local police with searching county jails for people that could be deported, the Washington Post reports.

“Diverting valuable law enforcement resources away from public safety threats would drive undocumented families further into the shadows & damage our community safety,” the Post quotes Gonzalez as tweeting in 2019. “It silences witnesses & victims & (would) further worsen the challenges law enforcement officials face #ICEraids.”

If confirmed, Gonzalez would be the second high-ranking law enforcement official to depart the Houston area. Police Chief Art Acevedo resigned in March to take a new job in Miami. Mayor Sylvester Turner appointed Troy Finner as his replacement.

Gonzalez is a life-long Houstonian. He holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Houston Downtown and a master’s degree from the University of St. Thomas.

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