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Biden nominates Texas sheriff to lead ICE

Ed Gonzales has served as sheriff of Harris County, Texas, which is the third-largest sheriff's office in the country.
Ed Gonzalez
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez talks with Navy veteran Kenneth Martin inside the Harris County Joint Processing Center, in Houston, on July 25, 2019.Godofredo A Vasquez / Houston Chronicle via AP file

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden has nominated a Texas sheriff, Ed Gonzalez, to lead Immigrations and Customs Enforcement for the Department of Homeland Security.

Since 2017, Gonzales has served as sheriff of Harris County, Texas, which is the largest sheriff office in Texas and the third-largest in the country. He has led a team of 5,000 employees in the position and previously served 18 years with the Houston Police Department, rising to the rank of sergeant, according to his profile on his office's website.

If confirmed by the Senate as the next director of ICE, Gonzales would lead the agency charged with strengthening border security and preventing the illegal movement of people, goods and funds into and out of the U.S. The agency has about 20,000 deportation officers, special agents, analysts and other staff.

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas praised Biden’s pick in a statement Tuesday.

“Sheriff Ed Gonzalez is a strong choice for ICE Director,” Mayorkas said. “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. I hope the Senate will swiftly confirm Sheriff Gonzalez to this critical position.”

In 2017, as Harris County’s new sheriff, Gonzales withdrew from a partnership with federal immigration authorities that allowed local officers to determine the immigration status of jailed crime suspects, citing a lack of resources. They were then allowed to hold people selected for deportation, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Gonzales would succeed Tae Johnson, who has been serving as acting ICE director since Jan. 13. He previously served as the agency’s deputy director.

ICE has not had a permanent director since 2017. The agency operated with five acting directors under the Trump administration. This comes as the Biden administration has faced challenges at the border, including a surge of unaccompanied minors crossing into the U.S.

Mayorkas also announced Tuesday that he has directed ICE and Customs and Border Protection to place new limits on civil immigration enforcement actions in or near courthouses.

“The expansion of civil immigration arrests at courthouses during the prior administration had a chilling effect on individuals’ willingness to come to court or work cooperatively with law enforcement,” Mayorkas said. “Today’s guidance is the latest step in our efforts to focus our civil immigration enforcement resources on threats to homeland security and public safety.”