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Ed Gonzalez

Nominee for Director of ICE

Ed Gonzalez is the sheriff of Harris County, Texas. He has been a vocal critic of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), particularly during the Trump administration, and has expressed support for immigrant rights. However, a yellow rating is warranted because of discrepancies between his public critiques of the immigration system and his continued work with ICE in practice—including his refusal to overhaul policies under his purview that he once rebuked, such as the harmful 287(g) program.

Gonzalez Was Reported As Biden’s Nominee For The Director Of ICE On April 27, 2021

CNN Reported President Biden’s Nomination Of Ed Gonzalez To Serve As The Director Of ICE. “President Joe Biden will nominate Harris County, Texas, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, a critic of former President Donald Trump's immigration policies, to serve as director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the White House announced Tuesday. Gonzalez, who was elected sheriff of Harris County in 2016, has a decades-long career in law enforcement, according to his biography. He criticized the Trump administration for its stances on border and emergency management issues, and at one point withdrew his department from a controversial ICE program.” [CNN, 4/27/21]

Gonzalez Has Expressed Support For Immigrants’ Rights

During Gonzalez’s First Nomination Hearing, When Directly Asked About Forced Sterilizations In ICE Facilities, He Responded That Inhumane Treatment Would Not Be In Alignment With His Leadership If Confirmed To Director Role. “Thank you. Senator, if confirmed the health and safety of our facilities is paramount, not only for those that are under our care, but also for our workforce as well. So I understand the critical nature of it. I operate one of the largest jail systems. It comes with many challenges, so I'm quite attuned to those challenges and working with a team to work through those challenges. I also understand the complexity of working with a very detailed oversight body when it comes to the review and inspections of our jail facilities. I understand that under ICE they own and operate directly five facilities, but there are other facilities that where there are contracts in place in total, ICE operates with I believe four different sets of standards. So it's very complex, operating and overseeing a system that big. So I would want to understand what oversight and safeguards are in place to make sure that there are certain standards that are being met. We had experienced or I had experience in this early on in times when we've had to outsource temporarily into other facilities, private facilities. It's a practice that generally I'm not in favor of -- we're currently not outsourcing any inmates in our facility. So this is something that I would want to make sure and that's sometimes my concern with private facilities is understanding the oversight of that and making sure we're holding folks accountable to maintaining those high standards. So this is an area of concern. I've heard stories of some of the inhumane treatment and that would not be in alignment with the vision that I would have for ICE if confirmed. So I would be -- I would commit to make sure that we're reviewing that very closely.” [CSPAN, 7/15/21]

In 2017, Gonzalez Rebuked The Discriminatory Texas SB4 As “Anti-Immigrant Grandstanding.” “SB 4 goes wrong because it fundamentally functions with the assumption that the state government knows what is best for our local communities; it ignores our familiarity with our own cities and counties, and how to keep them safe. Our government is ideally designed to have the power of federal officials balanced with state and local authority. This bill is a result of anti-immigrant grandstanding and will strip local law enforcement of our designated power and ability to protect and serve our communities. We ask that the Texas House of Representatives reject SB 4 and any initiative to force local law enforcement to carry out the responsibilities of the federal government. We hope the Texas Legislature will do better for our communities, and for the safety of Texans.” [El Paso Times, 4/14/17]

Gonzalez Tweeted A Welcoming Message In Support Of Immigrants On The Fourth Of July.

[Ed Gonzalez Twitter, 7/4/18]

Gonzalez Tweeted Support For DACA And Expressed That Revoking DACA Would Undermine Community Policing Efforts Designed To Build Trust With Immigrant Populations.

[Ed Gonzalez Twitter, 11/12/19]


Gonzalez Applauded SCOTUS For Rejecting Provisions In An Arizona Anti-Immigrant Law.

[Ed Gonzalez Twitter, 6/25/12]


Gonzalez Tweeted That The Harris County Sherriff Office Would Not Participate In ICE Raids That Threatened Undocumented Immigrants.


[Ed Gonzalez Twitter, 7/12/19]

Gonzalez Spoke Out Against Federal Immigration Policy That Separated Families And Detained Children

Gonzalez Clearly Stated That Children Should Not Be Kept In Immigration Detention Centers. “Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said Sunday that children should not be kept in immigration detention centers and said the current situation highlights Congress' failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform. ‘Separating families harms children,’ Gonzalez said. ‘To me, it's an affront to our American values.’” [Houston Chronicle, 6/17/18]

Gonzalez Tweeted That “Family Separation Threatens To Undermine Community Trust.”

[Ed Gonzalez Twitter, 6/19/18]

Gonzalez Tweeted Disappointment With The Supreme Court’s Decision To Reject Deferred Action For Parents Of Americans.

[Ed Gonzalez Twitter, 6/23/16]

Gonzalez Tweeted Disappointment In DHS’s Decision To Terminate Temporary Protected Status For Salvadoran Immigrants.


[Ed Gonzalez Twitter, 1/8/18]

Gonzalez Has Used Twitter To Amplify The Connection Between Mass Incarceration And Immigration And To Dispute Misinformation Spread By Anti-Immigration Organizations

Gonzalez Amplified An Event Using The Hashtag #HoustonBeyondIce.

[Ed Gonzalez Twitter, 4/21/16]

Gonzalez Seemed To Critique The Process ICE Used To Screen An Individual Who Posted Bail But Was Not Released From Custody.



[Ed Gonzalez Twitter, 2/13/18]

Gonzalez Disputed The Validity Of Information Tweeted By An Anti-Immigrant Organization.


[Ed Gonzalez Twitter, 2/11/20]

A Former ICE Director Disagreed With Gonzalez’s Nomination, Pointing To His Critiques Of The Agency

The First Director At ICE, Tom Homan, Critiqued Gonzalez For His Opposition To ICE. “The Biden administration has nominated the Sheriff of Harris County, Texas, Ed Gonzalez, as the next ICE Director. As someone who sat in that chair and as someone who enforced immigration law for nearly 35 years as a border patrol agent and an ICE special agent, I can say without hesitation that Gonzalez is the wrong guy for the job. His policies and rhetoric demonstrate very clearly his opposition to enforcing our nation’s immigration laws as currently written and enacted. This administration has already hobbled ICE and drastically reduced its arrest authority, which has resulted in the lowest numbers of arrests and removals in the history of the agency. This administration attempts to ignore federal law and fails to enforce any meaningful immigration law either on the border or within our country. Based on his time as Harris County sheriff, Gonzalez has given every indication that he agrees with these policies.” [The Hill, 7/22/21]

There Is A Disconnect Between Gonzalez’s Verbal Rebukes Of ICE And His Actions

Criminal Justice Advocates Noted A Disconnect Between The Policies Gonzalez Publicly Championed And Conditions Inside Houston Jails, Which Were Under Gonzalez’s Purview As A Texas Sheriff. “I was very hopeful when he came on board,’ said Krish Gundu, director of the Texas Jail Project, who said she has met personally with Gonzalez and worked with his office to improve conditions inside local jails. Gundu said the Harris County Sheriff’s Office has failed to adequately address issues like access to medical and mental health care, better sanitation and nutritional services, and to end excessive use of force in jail. ‘Despite all his public policies he’s tried to implement and speak to in the media, what we’re seeing from inside the jail is there’s a disconnect between what he thinks he’s trying to do and what’s actually happening in jail,’ Gundu said.” [Houston Public Media, 7/14/21]

Under Gonzales’s Leadership, Thousands Of People In Harris County Jail Were Funneled To ICE Detention Centers. “Also during his time as sheriff, the Harris County jail has funneled thousands of people into Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers. According to Syracuse University data, in the previous five years, Harris County has led the country in the number of ‘detainers’ issued, which are a tool to hold immigrants in jail so they can be transferred to ICE detention centers. It’s through this lens that immigration advocates on Thursday will be watching Sheriff Gonzalez’s Senate confirmation hearing to become ICE director. If confirmed by the Senate, Gonzalez will lead one of the most heavily derided agencies in the federal government. ‘It’s going to be hard to reform something that has caused so much pain,’ said Jessica Azua, Texas Organizing Project immigration justice director.” [Houston Public Media, 7/14/21]

Although Gonzalez Ended Harris County’s Partnership With ICE Not Long After He Assumed His Role As Sherriff… “Just one month into office as Harris County sheriff, Gonzalez ended the county’s nine-year 287(g) partnership with ICE, which provided for the safe removal of criminal aliens from communities.” [The Hill, 7/22/21

  • “As Harris County Sheriff, Ed Gonzalez Ended An Agreement That Leveraged Local Law Enforcement To Carry Out Duties Of Immigration Officers, Called 287(G).” [Houston Public Media, 7/14/21]

…During His Nomination Hearing, Gonzalez Stated His Move To End 287(g) Was A Budgetary Move And He Would Not Seek To Do So As ICE Director. “When asked about his previous stance on the 287(g) program, Gonzalez said his decision to terminate the agreement was based on budgetary concerns at the sheriff’s office. He also pointed to the fact that it was a voluntary program. U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, asked Gonzalez whether he intended to end the program nationwide if confirmed. ‘You didn't want it in your own county, would you want to terminate that program?’ Portman asked. ‘That would not be my intent,’ Gonzalez responded.” [Houston Public Media, 7/15/21]

  • The 287(g) Program Enables Local Law Enforcement To Hand People In Their Custody Over To DHS And Is Responsible For Detaining And Deporting People For Minor Infractions. “The 287(g) program is named for Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and became law as part of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRAIRA). Through the 287(g) program, state and local law enforcement officers collaborate with the federal government to enforce federal immigration laws. In the past, the 287(g) program has been costly for localities, has historically targeted individuals with little or no criminal history, and has harmed the relationship between police and local communities.” [American Immigration Council, 7/8/21]

Gonzalez Has Tweeted Stigmatizing Statements About Teenage Pregnancy

Gonzalez Seemed To Imply That Mentors Were The Solution To Curbing Teenage Pregnancy.

[Ed Gonzalez Twitter, 1/14/11]


Gonzalez Grouped Teen Pregnancy Into His List Of Social Issues Negatively Impacting Education.

[Ed Gonzalez Twitter, 5/26/11]

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