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Biden nominates Houston sheriff who criticized Trump's immigration policies as the head of ICE

 President Joe Biden has selected Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, who blasted ICE raids on social media, to lead the nation's Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

Gonzalez, who was elected sheriff in 2016, has sharply criticized agency practices under President Donald Trump on social media.  

Sine 2017 he has served as sheriff of the most populous county in Texas. It includes Houston.

Harris County Sheriff in Texas Ed Gonzalez

Harris County Sheriff in Texas Ed Gonzalez

In a July 2019 Facebook post, Gonzalez said he opposed sweeping immigration raids after Trump a month earlier tweeted hyperbolically that ICE would begin deporting 'millions of illegal aliens'.

'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 wrote. 'The focus should always be on clear & immediate safety threats.'

He withdrew his department from a federal program focused on deporting immigrants, citing a chilling effect on immigrants who might otherwise report crimes.

Trump throughout his presidency regularly surrounded himself with immigration and border patrol agents as he sought to project a strong image while promoting a crackdown. 


Some activists and lawmakers went after the agency over raids used to round up immigrants inside the country. In January, 'squad' member Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reiterated her call to 'Abolish ICE.'

Pew study last year placed it at the bottom of federal agencies ranked by popularity, with 46 per cent unfavorability, landing below the IRS, the VA, and the Justice Department.

According to a White House announcement, his office has 5,000 employees and a $571 million annual budget. 

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Fugitive Operations Team members on a raid in Los Angeles. ICE is doing its biggest ever fugitive operation, where agents pick up people who have already been deported or are criminal aliens . Photos taken Sept. 27, 2007 in Santa Ana

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Fugitive Operations Team members on a raid in Los Angeles. ICE is doing its biggest ever fugitive operation, where agents pick up people who have already been deported or are criminal aliens . Photos taken Sept. 27, 2007 in Santa Ana

President Biden has selected Harris County sheriff Ed Gonzalez to lead ICE

President Biden has selected Harris County sheriff Ed Gonzalez to lead ICE

Friends, coworkers and family watch as U.S. immigration officials raid the Koch Foods Inc., plant in Morton, Miss., Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019.

Friends, coworkers and family watch as U.S. immigration officials raid the Koch Foods Inc., plant in Morton, Miss., Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019.

ICE has 20,000 employees, and operates within the sprawling Department of Homeland Security. It's budget is $8 billion per year. 

The nomination would need to be approved by the 100-seat U.S. Senate, divided 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, with Vice President Kamala Harris able to break ties.

Gonzalez blasted ICE raids on people he said presented no threat

Gonzalez blasted ICE raids on people he said presented no threat

Gonzalez is a critic of former President Trump's immigration policies

Gonzalez is a critic of former President Trump's immigration policies

Biden, a Democrat, campaigned on a pledge to reverse many of Trump's hardline immigration policies. After Biden took office on Jan. 20, his administration placed a 100-day pause on many deportations and greatly limited who can be arrested and deported by ICE.

Biden's deportation moratorium drew fierce pushback from Republicans and was blocked by a federal judge in Texas days after it went into effect.

Some career ICE officials have privately criticized the new enforcement priorities, saying they prevent agents from arresting some criminals.


Biden announced on April 12 that he would tap Chris Magnus, an Arizona police chief, to lead U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Magnus had criticized the Trump administration's attempt to force so-called 'sanctuary' jurisdictions to cooperate with federal law enforcement.

Gonzalez similarly sought to limit ties between local police and federal immigration enforcement. In 2017, he ended Harris County´s participation in a program that increased cooperation between county law enforcement and federal immigration authorities. (Reporting by Ted Hesson in Washington and Mimi Dwyer in Los Angeles; Additional reporting by Steve Holland in Washington; Editing by Ross Colvin, Cynthia Osterman and Peter Graff) 

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