ILRC Condemns ICE Director Nominee Gonzalez’ Comments in Confirmation Hearing

(Washington)—Today, during Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez’ Senate confirmation hearing for the ICE director position, the rest of the country got to see what Texans already knew: that Gonzalez has no plans to change immigration enforcement in the United States. 

Gonzalez made several concerning comments during the hearing, stating that he intends to keep many problematic ICE programs and practices in place – programs such as 287(g) which President Biden promised to end, and Gonzalez previously criticized due to its history of encouraging racial profiling and civil rights abuses. 

“President Biden could have nominated someone with a better understanding of immigrant communities and the need to eradicate decades of racist and anti-immigrant practices,” said Anita Gupta, Attorney for the Immigrant Legal Resource Center based in Texas. “Instead, he nominated a career law enforcement official who continues to rely on misleading and criminalizing rhetoric about public safety. To hold ICE accountable for the harm it has sown, the agency must eliminate its longstanding practices that criminalize Black and Brown communities, instead of doubling down on them.” 

“Many people have lauded Sheriff Gonzalez for ending Harris County’s 287(g) contract in 2017, but he only did so in response to years of community pressure, and today he demonstrated that he has no intention of disentangling ICE from local law enforcement,” Gupta added. “It is no surprise that Harris County has continued to have the highest number of ICE arrests in the country during Gonzalez’s tenure as Sheriff.” 

Gonzalez won praise from anti-immigrant GOP Senators, including Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, for playing into their rhetoric and saying he believed unauthorized entry into the U.S. should remain a crime, and that immigrants convicted of crimes like assault and weapons offenses are likely to be repeat offenders. 

“This portrayal of immigrants feeds into a dangerous and wrong stereotype that must not be perpetuated by the head of ICE,” Gupta said. “After four years of Trump, our communities are expecting the administration to take steps to dismantle ICE, not prop up a director that will continue to use harmful narratives to punish immigrant communities.”