Biden’s ICE Nominee Ed Gonzalez Withdraws From Consideration Amid Process Delays

Ed Gonzalez, President Joe Biden’s nominee for director of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), has withdrawn himself from consideration for the role amid a delay in the confirmation process.

In a series of posts on Twitter late Monday night, Gonzalez said he informed the Biden administration of his withdrawal on Sunday.

“More than a year has passed since the President nominated me for this important position, which has not had a Senate-confirmed director since the Obama administration,” he said. Under President Donald Trump’s administration, the agency was led by acting officials.

“I arrived at this decision after prayerfully considering what’s best for our nation, my family, and the people of Harris County who elected me to serve a second term as Sheriff,” he continued. “I am grateful to President Biden for the honor of nominating me, and I wish this administration well as it strives to overcome the paralyzing political gridlock that threatens far more than our nation’s border. Frankly, the dysfunction threatens America’s heart and soul.”

Gonzalez, who is the Harris County Sheriff in Texas, was initially nominated in April 2021 to direct ICE, an agency under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The mission of ICE is to address cross-border crime and illegal immigration that threaten U.S. national security and public safety.

The Homeland Security Committee advanced Gonzalez’s nomination in a party-line vote in August 2021. But a vote to confirm him in the then-Republican-controlled Senate was never brought to the Senate floor by the end of the legislative session, causing the nomination to expire.

In January 2022, Biden resubmitted his nomination for Gonzalez, and in February, the Homeland Security Committee advanced the nomination for a second time.

Delays Amid Domestic Abuse Allegations

Before a Senate floor vote to confirm Gonzalez was due to happen, Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)—the lead Republican on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Government Operations and Border Management—asked Democrat leaders to delay the vote to allow time for an allegation of domestic abuse to be investigated.

The allegation was in an affidavit filed in July 2021 (pdf), from a former Houston Community College police officer. It stemmed from an unrelated case involving Houston Community College, where Gonzalez’s wife Melissa served as vice chancellor. The affidavit involved allegations that  Gonzalez became “physical or violent” with his wife “because of her romantic relationship with the Chancellor.”

Lankford said in a letter (pdf) to Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer, (D-N.Y.), “Because of the severity of these allegations, the vote on his nomination should be postponed until it can be determined whether or not these allegations are true.”

Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), the lead Democrat on the Homeland Security panel, said in March he decided to postpone the vote to probe the allegations.

Jason Spencer, a former spokesman for the sheriff’s office, said at the time that no evidence was found to suggest the claims in the affidavit were true.

Gonzalez and his wife have both denied the allegations. In a statement to CNN in March, Gonzalez said, “The allegations are false, all politics.”

Melissa Gonzalez wrote in a letter provided by the White House in March, “Any suggestion that I filed or made a complaint against my husband is false and defamatory. To be clear, the assertions referenced in the affidavit, as they relate to me, my husband, or my marriage, are completely false.”

The White House at the time also issued a statement in support of Gonzalez.

“Sheriff Gonzalez is an extraordinarily qualified law enforcement professional with 30 years experience. He has a proven track record of implementing progressive solutions to difficult problems, while coordinating with federal partners, including ICE, to make Harris County Texas safer, and he should be confirmed without delay,” a White House official said.

The Houston Chronicle later published a report from the inquiry by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs into the allegations, which were debunked. The report stated there were discrepancies in the claims laid out in the affidavit.

 Critical of Some ICE Policies

Gonzalez worked for the Houston Police Department for nearly two decades before he was elected sheriff of Harris County, Texas, in 2016.

Prior to when the domestic abuse allegations became more prominent, Republicans were critical of Gonzalez’s previous actions regarding illegal immigration.

Gonzalez had made previous statements criticizing certain ICE immigration policies under the Trump administration.

The Texas sheriff had also in 2017 decided to withdraw Harris County out of an ICE program known as 287(g) that would allow local law enforcement to be deputized by ICE to enable them to enforce federal immigration law, including to deport criminals who were screened in county jails and found to be illegal immigrants.

In a confirmation hearing on July 15, 2021, Gonzalez said he had no intention to end the program if he were to become ICE director.

Gonzalez had also previously declined to cooperate with an ICE operation in 2019, saying on Twitter, “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. [Harris County Sheriff’s Office Texas] does not participate.”

From The Epoch Times