Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez testified before a U.S. Senate Thursday morning in the first steps in a confirmation process to lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
President Joe Biden nominated Gonzalez to lead one of the most scrutinized agencies within the federal government back in April.
Immigration has long been a hot-button issue for the Department of Homeland Security and is an urgent focus for the Biden administration as states bordering Mexico — most notably Texas — manage a border crisis.
If confirmed, KHOU 11 political analyst Bob Stein says he will have a tough task ahead.
Stein says that because the Biden administration has not set a clear message on their immigration policy, Republicans will use that to their advantage during the confirmation hearing.
"You know the Republicans are loaded for bear. They are out for hunting, and they are out to make Ed an example of a disorganized, confused, and if not, duplicitous immigration policy. Ed, on the other hand, I think he will surprise people," Stein said.
Stein believes they will also come after Gonzalez himself. Gonzalez publicly criticized immigration policies. In 2019 he tweeted he did not support ICE raids. The focus, he said, should be on immediate safety threats.
He even spoke out against SB4, which allowed law enforcement officers to ask for detainees’ legal status and to collaborate with immigration officers. And all of this will probably resurface during the hearing, Stein said.
"I think you will hear a lot of comments that Ed did not cooperate. How can you be the ICE director if you wouldn’t uphold the law and make referrals to ice on undocumented aliens? This is going to be what we call the paradox," Stein said.
The bottom line: the confirmation hearing won't be an easy one. But all eyes will be on Gonzalez to provide hints of what the immigration policy will be for the Biden administration.