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By: Nevaeh Richardson

President Joe Biden has nominated Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez to lead the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

Gonzalez, a native Houstonian, was elected as the sheriff of Harris County on November 8, 2016, officially taking position as the 30th Harris County Sheriff on January 1, 2017.  He was elected for a second term in 2020 after earning the highest vote total on the countywide ballot.

Gonzalez spent 18 years at the Houston Police Department, first as a civilian employee, then rose to the position of sergeant. Gonzalez then went on to serve on the elite hostage negotiation team and was an investigator for the Homicide Division.

Gonzalez retired in 2009 and served three terms on the Houston City Council. In 2010, he was elected to serve as Vice Mayor Pro-Tem and was appointed Mayor Pro-Tem by former Houston Mayor Annise Parker.

The Harris County Sheriff has been notably outspoken about former President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.

After Trump was elected president, Gonzalez removed Harris County from a partnership dating back to 2008 that permitted sheriff’s deputies to enforce immigration laws.

“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.,” Gonzalez posted on Facebook in 2019. “The focus should always be on clear and immediate safety threats, not others who are not threats.”

Under Gonzalez’s leadership, the Harris County Jail honored ICE requests, which included holding suspects for up to 48 hours, more than any other facility in the nation during a 12-month period that ended in 2019.

Gonzalez currently manages 5,000 employees in Harris County, and if the sheriff is established as the Director of ICE, he will be over 20,000 employees with an annual budget of $8 billion.

The announcement of Gonzalez’s nomination brought messages of both approval and disapproval.

Ali Noorani, head of the National Immigration Forum, commented that Gonzalez was “an excellent choice that would bring much-needed permanent leadership…and a risk-based, more humane, measured approach… to our nation’s immigration enforcement.”

Head of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, Dan Stein, said that Gonzalez was “a staunch opponent of our interior immigration enforcement,” and that his nomination was a part of President Biden’s “unrelenting assault of the integrity of our immigration enforcement system.”

The immigration agency has been under the direction of five directors during the Trump administration. If confirmed, Gonzalez will be the first permanent director of ICE since 2017.