Harris County, Texas – President Joe Biden announced his nomination of Harris County Sheriff, Ed Gonzalez, as the new director of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement under the Department of Homeland Security in a news release last week.
Gonzalez’s nomination comes as a result of immigration policy changes announced earlier this year by the Biden administration which seeks to narrow and focus U.S. immigration efforts. Since his election as sheriff of Harris County in 2016, Gonzalez has been a vocal opponent of ICE immigration policies publicly calling for changes in the way the organization handles immigration issues.
“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 posted on Facebook in 2019. “The focus should always be on clear & immediate safety threats. Not others who are not threats.”
During his two terms as sheriff, Gonzalez ended a program in place well before his election which trained a handful of Harris County deputies to determine the immigration status of prisoners. He also ended another long standing program in which the sheriffs office would hold those in the country illegally for deportation.
Currently, Gonzalez oversees the 3rd largest sheriff’s office in the country which employs over 5,000 and has a budget of $571 million annually. Gonzalez would oversee more than 20,000 employees with an annual budget of over $8 billion if his nomination is approved.
Gonzalez must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate before taking up his new position. If confirmed, Gonzalez would be the first official director of ICE since Sarah Saldaña stepped down in January of 2017. In addition, if Gonzalez is confirmed for his new position as Director of ICE, an acting sheriff for Harris County would be selected by the Commissioners Court.