HOUSTON – Harris County’s top law enforcement officer is leaving his post and headed to the nation’s Capital.
“I’m excited for him. This is another opportunity for him to write a new chapter in his life and career,” said Adrian Garcia, Precinct 2 Commissioner.
On Tuesday, President Biden nominated Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez to be an Assistant Secretary to Homeland Security. He will serve as the director of ICE.
“He has a large task ahead of him,” said Andre Segura, ACLU Texas Legal Director.
On Wednesday, the organization called on the Biden administration to shut down 39 ice detention facilities, including six in Texas.
1. Bluebonnet Detention Facility, Texas
2. El Valle Detention Center, Texas
3. T. Don Hutto Residential Center, Texas
4. IAH Secure Adult Detention Facility, Texas
5. Montgomery ICE Processing Center, Texas
6. Prairieland Detention Facility, Texas
Segura said immigration detention centers have a long history of abuse, overcrowding and sanitary problems.
“ICE really failed at its job of protecting those that it was detaining within its facilities. Here in Texas, we saw COVID spread like wildfire,” he said.
If confirmed by the Senate as the director of ICE, Gonzalez will oversee strengthening border security and arresting and deporting civil immigration violations.
Gonzalez will also oversee an agency with more than 20,000 employees and an annual budget of $8 billion compared to Harris County Sheriff’s Office that has about 5,000 employed and a $571 million annual budget.
“He is going to have a lot of responsibility and it’s going to be quite the challenge to reform ICE practices,” Segura said.
As Gonzalez prepares for his departure, the next step is finding a leader to oversee the department.
“Commissioners court will have the duty to appoint someone until an election can take place,” said Jack Cagle, Precinct 4 Commissioner.
The primary election will take place next year in March. The nominations will be sent to the Senate in the next few weeks.