Harris County, Texas, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, who opposed Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids to deport illegal immigrants with removal orders during the Trump administration, is President Joe Biden’s pick to head up ICE.
According to his office website, Gonzalez, a Democrat, was first elected in 2016 and reelected in 2020. He served on the Houston City Council after spending 18 years with the Houston Police Department.
“Voters elected Sheriff Gonzalez to a second term in 2020 when he earned the highest vote total of any candidate on the countywide ballot,” the news release stated.
“The Harris County Sheriff’s Office is the largest Sheriff Office in the State of Texas, and the third-largest nationally. Sheriff Gonzalez leads upwards of 5,000 employees to protect the County’s 4.5 million residents within the 1,700 square miles of Harris County.”
President Biden will nominate Texas Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, a critic of Trump’s immigration policies, to serve as ICE directorhttps://t.co/n9bRWDnC2l
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) April 27, 2021
His policies as sheriff of Harris County went unmentioned in the White House release — perhaps unsurprisingly, considering Gonzalez continues the drift of an administration that hasn’t been terribly keen on the “Enforcement” part of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
For instance, here was Gonzalez, in the run-up to a series of July 2019 raids in which ICE was set to detain up to 2,000 illegal immigrants who had been served with deportation orders:
I do not support #ICERaids 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 & immediate safety threats. Not others who are not threats. @HCSOTexas does not participate.
— Ed Gonzalez (@SheriffEd_HCSO) July 12, 2019
“I do not support #ICERaids 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 & immediate safety threats. Not others who are not threats,” Gonzalez tweeted at the time.
That take reemerged after Gonzalez’s nomination to head ICE, having not aged well as far as conservatives are concerned:
This is who Biden nominated as the new head of ICE https://t.co/fo7fnU2PQ4
— Ryan James Girdusky (@RyanGirdusky) April 27, 2021
— Alexander McCoy (@AlexanderMcCoy4) April 27, 2021
That second tweet got most of the attention — since 280 characters or less can, much like a picture, say a thousand words.
Less attention was focused on his similarly frustrating decision to end a program called 287(g) shortly after then-President Donald Trump took office in 2017. That program trained deputies to check a detainee’s immigration status on ICE’s database.
“After thoughtful consideration, I’ve decided to opt out of the voluntary 287(g) program,” Gonzalez said in February of 2017, according to the Houston Chronicle.
“We’ll still be cooperating with local, state and federal authorities as we always have. We just won’t have our manpower resources inside the jail doing that.”
So, he’s not a fan of ICE raids and he’s not a fan of checking on the immigration status of those in police detention. This would, under normal circumstances, be red flags for a nominee to head ICE — but sadly, he fits in well with the Biden administration’s priorities in the matter.
According to a Fox News report Saturday, guidance issued by the Department of Homeland Security in February stressed that ICE field operatives would be focusing on only “aggravated felons,” national security threats and those who entered the country after Nov. 1. The administration also tried to institute a 100-day pause in deportations, although that was blocked by a judge.
Still, as The Wall Street Journal noted, the difference between the Trump and Biden administrations could be felt even without the 100-day pause in place.
“Deportations fell by nearly 50%. And ICE’s population of immigrants in detention — which peaked above 56,000 in 2019 — fell to 14,000 in March,” The Journal reported Tuesday.
Whether or not Gonzalez will face any opposition from Republicans still remains to be seen. Groups opposed to illegal immigration were decidedly unimpressed, however.
“ICE exists to enforce immigration laws in the interior of the country. Nominating someone who will prevent the agency from doing its job at a critical time not only threatens public safety, but incentivizes wayward employers to hire illegal aliens,” said R.J. Hauman, head of government relations for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, in a statement, according to a Fox report Tuesday.
“Any senator who votes to confirm Ed Gonzalez should be voted out of office.”
To be fair, though, Ed Gonzalez is a symptom, not the problem. The administration is signaling that ICE is going to be doing as little enforcement as possible so long as it can get away with it.
While most ICE operations focus on the interior of the country, part of the motivation driving the surge of illegal aliens the country is experiencing is likely the laxity of law enforcement against illegal aliens once they’ve made it inside.
The appointment of a man with a well-known reluctance to act against law-breakers isn’t going to do much to ease the border crisis.
When an administration makes only the most desultory of attempts to enforce immigration law, it will quickly discover that sort of thing doesn’t play well with American voters.
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