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Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez tapped by President Biden to lead ICE

President Joe Biden announced the nomination on Tuesday.

HOUSTON — Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez has been nominated to become the Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security.

President Joe Biden made the announcement on Tuesday.

Gonzalez was elected as the Harris County Sheriff in 2016 and was reelected in 2020. He's a lifelong Houstonian.

During Tuesday afternoon’s Commissioners Court meeting, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said she spoke with Gonzalez briefly after hearing the news.

“He’s done just such a fantastic job,” Hidalgo said. “I’m just really happy that the (Biden) Administration has seen his talent, and I think they’ll gain an incredibly talented leader.”

Biden also announced key administration nominations for several other national security positions:

  • Frank Kendall, Nominee for Secretary of the Air Force, Department of Defense
  • Thomas A. Monheim, Nominee for Inspector General of the Intelligence Community
  • Gina Ortiz Jones, Nominee for Under Secretary of the Air Force, Department of Defense
  • Meredith Berger, Nominee for Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations, and Environment, Department of Defense
  • Michael Connor, Nominee for Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, Department of Defense
  • Ed Gonzalez, Nominee for Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Homeland Security
  • Caroline Krass, Nominee for General Counsel, Department of Defense
  • Chris Lu, Nominee for Representative to the United Nations for Management and Reform, with the Rank of Ambassador, Department of State
  • Lee Satterfield, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Department of State
  • Adam Scheinman, Nominee for Special Representative of the President for Nuclear Nonproliferation, with the Rank of Ambassador, Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, Department of State
  • Heidi Shyu, Nominee for Under Secretary for Research and Engineering, Department of Defense

On Tuesday afternoon, Gonzalez also drew praise from White House officials.

“We encourage the Senate to not only consider but confirm qualified nominees,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said. “We certainly considered (Gonzalez) as one of them. The president looks forward to having someone in this position and certainly ... indicates a priority that we put it out today.”

KHOU political analyst Bob Stein said immigration continues to be a challenging issue for Biden. Stein said Gonzalez has a history of advocating for humane treatment and housing for people crossing the border.

“I think having someone with law enforcement experience who is Hispanic, who has been in elected office, multiple elected offices, allows you to say, ‘Here’s someone who knows how to do this and do it humanely,’” Stein said.

Cesar Espinosa, executive director of FIEL, said the local immigrant rights group has worked with Gonzalez for years. Espinosa credited the Sheriff for listening and taking community input.

"We understand that the role he is about to undertake is a huge and controversial role and we wish him well in this endeavor,” Espinosa said in an emailed statement. “However, we have some things we would not like to see again such as massive raids, lack of prosecutorial discretion and continued separation of hard-working families.”

A White House spokesperson told KHOU the  Biden Administration will send nominee names to the Senate possibly by early May.

If Gonzalez is confirmed as ICE Director, Commissioners Court would appoint the Sheriff’s replacement to serve until a new election, most likely in 2022.

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