The president of the United States, Joe Biden, nominated a Latino very critical of the policies of his predecessor Donald Trump on Tuesday as director of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (ICE), a proposal that must pass through the Senate.
If confirmed in the position, Ed Gonzalez would report to the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Alejandro Mayorkas, whose appointment marked a milestone for being the first Latino and immigrant to lead this portfolio.
Gonzalez – who serves as Sheriff of Harris County, Texas – was very critical of the former Republican president for his harsh policies to combat irregular immigration and refused to collaborate with the service that he can now lead.
In 2019, he declared on Twitter against the raids organized by ICE stating that they “threaten to deport millions of undocumented immigrants, the vast majority of whom do not pose a threat to the United States.”
Biden took a turn from Trump’s policy and has limited deportations to people detained at the border, individuals posing a risk to national security and immigrants with criminal convictions.
The president is also promoting legislative reform to provide a path to the legalization of millions of people, with an uncertain fate in Congress.
“Sheriff Ed Gonzalez is a solid choice to be the director of ICE,” Mayorkas said in a statement. “I hope the Senate confirms it quickly for this critical position,” he added.
As part of this change in strategy on immigration, Mayorkas ordered ICE on Tuesday to limit its actions near the courts or within the courts, a practice that limited access to justice for many migrants.
The DHS secretary stated that the expansion of immigration arrests in court during the previous administration “had a chilling effect on people’s willingness to appear in court or work cooperatively with law enforcement.”
For Mayorkas, this directive is the latest step in a series of efforts to direct resources to enforce immigration laws toward “threats to national security.”
The directive established the following exceptions: matters that affect national security, when there is an imminent risk of death or violence against any person or when it is an individual who represents a risk to public safety.
They also stipulated that agents can approach in the event that there is an imminent risk of destruction of evidence in a criminal case.