HOUSTON — One of the most popular political figures in Harris County will have the national spotlight next week.
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez was nominated by the Biden administration to be the director Immigration and Customs Enforcement for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
And if confirmed, KHOU 11 political analyst Bob Stein says he will have a tough task ahead.
"He is to articulate and implement the Biden administration policy. The problem is we don’t know what that is," Stein said.
Stein says because the Biden administration has not set a clear message on their immigration policy, during the confirmation hearing Republicans will use that to their advantage.
"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 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 resurface next week.
"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.
"It's Ed's answers and the administration answers that I think will tell us a lot. And going into 2022 midterm elections, this is an important issue," Stein said.
Even though he doesn’t have the gig yet, local immigration advocates are hopeful Gonzalez is confirmed, they want to continue working with him.
"We hope to continue this dialogue now that he is going to be in this new national level. How we can improve the department?" said Cesar Espinosa with FIEL Houston.
The confirmation hearing is set for 10:15 a.m. Thursday in Washington, D.C.