Last Updated on April 27, 2021 – 7:39 PM CDT
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune: Read More
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President Joe Biden announced Tuesday that he will nominate Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, a vocal skeptic of cooperating with federal immigration authorities in certain circumstances, to serve as director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
As head of ICE, Gonzalez would help oversee one of the most contentious parts of Biden’s agenda: enforcing U.S. immigration law. Biden has promised to unwind much of predecessor Donald Trump’s hardline border policies.
Gonzalez is a former Houston police officer who served on the City Council before first getting elected sheriff in 2016. He won a second four-year term in 2020. During his first term, he was a vocal critic of Trump’s approach to immigration.
In 2019, when Trump tweeted that his administration would be deporting “millions of illegal aliens,” Gonzalez posted on Facebook that the “vast majority” of undocumented immigrants do not proposed a threat to the U.S. and should not be deported.
“The focus should always be on clear & immediate safety threats,” he said.
Soon after he took office, Gonzalez ended a Harris County partnership with ICE that trained 10 deputies to specifically screen jailed individuals for immigration status and hold any selected for deportation. According to the Houston Chronicle, cutting the program still meant Harris County would hold inmates for deportation regardless of their charge, but only if ICE officials themselves make the request.
Gonzalez also vocally opposed 2017 legislation that would prevent cities from banning local law enforcement from asking about immigration status and would push civil fines and a misdemeanor offense on law enforcement who don’t comply with federal immigration enforcement.
In a letter to the Senate Committee on State Affairs, Gonzales opposed what supporters dubbed “anti-sanctuary city” legislation, saying it would take public safety resources away from addressing other local safety issues, such as human trafficking and murder.
“I am also concerned about the risk of an unintended consequence: creating a climate of fear and suspicion that could damage our efforts to reinforce trust between law enforcement and the communities we serve,” he wrote.
Also on Tuesday, Biden said he was tapping another Texan, Gina Ortiz Jones, to be under secretary of the Air Force. Jones is a former Air Force intelligence officer who twice ran as a Democrat for one of Texas’ most competitive congressional districts.
Both positions are subject to confirmation by the U.S. Senate.
Jones would be the No. 2 civilian leader of the Air Force as under secretary. Defense News, which first reported Biden’s plan to nominate Jones, a Filipino American, said she would be the first woman of color to serve in the position.
Jones also is a member of the LGBT community and served in the Air Force under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” After her time in the Air Force, Jones went to work for the Defense Intelligence Agency and later the office of the U.S. trade representative. She ran against U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-Helotes, in 2018 and lost by less than 1,000 votes. She made a second bid for the seat last year, when Hurd did not seek reelection, and lost by a wider margin to Republican Tony Gonzales.