The Texas sheriff picked to lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement pushed back on the agency’s request to screen inmates through their database and detain them for possible deportation, Courthouse News reported.
President Joe Biden nominated Texas Sheriff Ed Gonzalez to lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Tuesday. Gonzalez opposed training deputies to use ICE’s database to screen inmates for their immigration status in February 2017, Courthouse News reported.
Gonzalez reassigned 10 deputies being trained to use the database to screen inmates to address overcrowding and understaffing issues at the Harris County jail, Courthouse News reported. He said the additional screening measures could result in racial profiling, according to Courthouse News.
Although Gonzalez opposed ICE’s screening database, he said inmates would be held at the agency’s request regardless of the crime they were charged with, adhering to Trump-era immigration policies, Courthouse News reported. Sheriffs could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor for not cooperating with ICE detainers.
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office did not participate in ICE “raids that threaten to deport millions of undocumented immigrants” because a majority of them aren’t a threat, Gonzalez said.
I do not support #ICERaids that threaten to deport millions of undocumented immigrants, the vast majority of whom do not represent a threat to the U.S. The focus should always be on clear & immediate safety threats. Not others who are not threats. @HCSOTexas does not participate.
— Ed Gonzalez (@SheriffEd_HCSO) July 12, 2019
Gonzalez said illegal immigrants don’t report crimes because of a distrust in law enforcement since they could be subject to removal, Courthouse News reported. A Trump-era directive allowed for the removal of illegal immigrants arrested for minor crimes.
Immigration attorneys said former President Donald Trump’s policies subjected around 11 million illegal immigrants to potential deportation, Courthouse News reported.
“After thoughtful consideration, I’ve decided to opt out of the voluntary 287(g) program,” Gonzalez said, the Houston Chronicle reported. “We’ll still be cooperating with local, state and federal authorities as we always have, we just won’t have our manpower resources inside the jail doing that.”
Gonzalez was elected Sheriff of Harris County in January 2016 where he managed over 5,000 employees in an area home to 4.5 million people, according to the White House.