Anti-Enforcement Sheriff Nominated to Lead ICE
FAIR Take | April 2021
President Joe Biden nominated Harris County (Texas) Sheriff Ed Gonzalez as the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the agency responsible for interior immigration enforcement in the United States. Gonzalez was a vocal critic of former President Donald Trump’s immigration policies despite having no experience in immigration or federal law enforcement.
In many ways, President Biden used the same template in selecting Gonzalez that he did for selecting Tucson police chief Chris Magnus to lead Customs and Border Protection (CBP). In both cases, President Biden selected border-state law enforcement officials with a history of vocally opposing former President Trump’s policies.
Gonzalez has a long history of opposing immigration enforcement, and is particularly critical of local law enforcement authorities cooperating with ICE, the very agency Biden tapped him to lead. As a sergeant in Houston’s police department, Gonzalez said: “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. The focus should always be on clear and immediate safety threats. Not others who are not threats.
Most notably, as the sheriff of Harris County (which includes all of Houston), Gonzalez ended the county’s 287g policy which allowed some sheriff’s deputies to enforce federal immigration laws. These 287g policies are force multipliers for ICE and give local law enforcement the tools to help promote public safety. It is disturbing that Biden would nominate someone so openly hostile to such an effective enforcement tool.
Like Magnus, Gonzalez does not have any federal law enforcement or immigration-related experience. As the Harris County sheriff, Gonzalez managed a staff of 5,000. ICE has a staff of over 20,000 and a budget of $7.6 billion.
The Senate will have to confirm Gonzalez’s appointment to lead ICE. The confirmation vote could be close, given Gonzalez’s past hostility towards programs that he would be responsible for overseeing as the director of ICE. FAIR will strongly oppose this nomination as it represents a significant step in the wrong direction for ICE. In the midst of the current border crisis, ICE needs a strong leader at the helm – not an open-borders apologist opposed to the enforcement of our immigration laws.