Meet the Sheriff and Police Chief Tapped to Lead ICE and Border Patrol

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Ed Gonzalez, the sheriff of Harris County, Texas, and Chris Magnus, Tucson’s constabulary chief, would beryllium liable for delivering connected President Biden’s committedness to instrumentality compassion to the migration system.

Ed Gonzalez, the sheriff of Houston’s Harris County, is nary  alien  to ICE, an bureau  that makes a batch  of arrests successful  the Houston area.
Credit...Elizabeth Conley/Houston Chronicle, via Associated Press

Eileen Sullivan

July 15, 2021, 5:00 a.m. ET

WASHINGTON — Ed Gonzalez, the sheriff of Harris County, successful Texas, made ending a concern with Immigration and Customs Enforcement 1 of his archetypal decisions connected the occupation because, helium said, the programme encouraged “illegal radical profiling.”

Chris Magnus, the constabulary main successful Tucson, Ariz., has taken pridefulness successful his city’s boast of “being welcoming to immigrants.” It is besides location to 1 of the busiest sectors of the Border Patrol, an bureau that is seldom praised for its hospitality.

The 2 men person been tapped to tally the national government’s migration enforcement agencies, an abrupt displacement from rough-justice migration chiefs successful the Trump administration. If they are confirmed by the Senate — Sheriff Gonzalez astatine ICE and Chief Magnus astatine Customs and Border Protection — they would beryllium liable for delivering connected President Biden’s committedness to instrumentality compassion to the migration strategy aft the roundups, zero tolerance, wall-building and household separations of the past administration.

Sheriff Gonzalez’s confirmation hearing, earlier the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, is acceptable for Thursday. A proceeding for Chief Magnus has not yet been scheduled. But successful a reminder of however charged the migration contented has already go for Mr. Biden, Senator James Lankford, an Oklahoma Republican, said Tuesday that helium had placed a clasp connected some nominations until “we tin really get the Biden medication to laic retired what their argumentation is going to be, and what they’re going to bash to beryllium capable to really enforce the law” regarding immigration.

The section instrumentality enforcement backgrounds of the nominees would bring a caller position arsenic Americans request changes successful however the constabulary dainty communities of color. But it could besides go their top challenge, arsenic Sheriff Gonzalez and Chief Magnus effort to summation the spot of agencies they person interacted with arsenic chiseled outsiders. Local instrumentality enforcement leaders thin to spot moving with their communities arsenic a paramount responsibility. Federal instrumentality enforcement has seldom operated that way.

“The occupation of section instrumentality enforcement is beauteous importantly antithetic from the relation that these migration enforcement policing agencies play, successful portion due to the fact that there’s nary mode to physique spot betwixt ICE and C.B.P. and migrant communities,” said Shaina Aber, the lawman manager of the Center connected Immigration and Justice astatine the Vera Institute of Justice successful New York. ICE and the Border Patrol, she added, “really commencement with this benignant of specious conception of migrant guilt.”

Within the ranks of migration instrumentality enforcement, officers are already wary. Brandon Judd, the president of the Border Patrol union, suggested that Chief Magnus, who loudly criticized the Trump administration’s policies, was sympathetic to radical who participate the United States without documentation. “That’s a concern,” helium said.

And anti-immigrant groups are girding for a fight. “In the midst of the existent borderline crisis, ICE needs a beardown person astatine the helm — not an open-borders apologist opposed to the enforcement of our migration laws,” Preston Huennekens, a authorities relations manager for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, said of Sheriff Gonzalez’s nomination.

The sheriff, whose tenure successful Harris County, which includes Houston, began weeks earlier Donald J. Trump’s inauguration, is nary alien to ICE, an bureau that makes a batch of arrests successful the area. In 2019, helium shared his objections to raids conducted by ICE agents and made wide his section did not enactment successful them. “I bash not enactment #ICERaids that endanger to deport millions of undocumented immigrants, the immense bulk of whom bash not correspond a menace to the U.S.,” he posted connected Twitter. “The absorption should ever beryllium connected wide & contiguous information threats. Not others who are not threats.”

In Tucson, Chief Magnus constricted the scope of the national migration authorities by narrowing the scope of the situations deemed due for 1 of his officers to telephone ICE oregon Border Patrol.

But if conservatives are leery of the nominees, section migrant groups are skeptical of their good-cop images.

“Our communities successful Texas person witnessed firsthand however Sheriff Gonzalez has worked with ICE to transportation immigrants to ICE detention facilities and perpetuated the symptom and trauma of our communities,” said Norma Gonzalez, a pb organizer successful Texas for United We Dream, which represents young undocumented immigrants brought to the state illegally arsenic children.

Some pro-immigration activists successful Tucson are arsenic skeptical of Chief Magnus. After a 2017 protestation against Mr. Trump’s migration policies, a video of a Tucson constabulary officer pushing an 86-year-old pistillate went viral. Another woman, successful her 60s, was pepper-sprayed by the constabulary erstwhile she reached down to assistance her. At the time, Chief Magnus said his officers managed the situation, which helium described arsenic a peaceful protestation that escalated to “a information and logistical challenge.”

Still, the outspoken absorption of Chief Magnus and Sheriff Gonzalez to utilizing section instrumentality enforcement to enforce national migration instrumentality is simply a crisp departure from the past 4 years, erstwhile Mr. Trump often threatened to chopped disconnected national backing to cities that did not assistance successful his crackdowns.


Credit...Mamta Popat/Arizona Daily Star, via Associated Press

The Trump medication sought to grow a program, created successful a 1996 law, that teamed national migration agencies with section instrumentality enforcement. Mr. Biden has said helium did not judge that the section constabulary should crook implicit undocumented immigrants to ICE to beryllium deported.

And the caput of homeland security, Alejandro N. Mayorkas, has started a reappraisal of specified agreements. In May, helium ended agreements with 2 region jails, successful Georgia and Massachusetts, which had been nether probe implicit whether they had mistreated migrant prisoners. Other agreements could besides beryllium terminated successful the coming months.

“For respective decades now, migrant leaders person been demanding full disentanglement of section instrumentality enforcement with national migration enforcement,” said Simon Y. Sandoval-Moshenberg, a lawyer with the Legal Aid Justice Center. “I deliberation the information of these 2 individuals gives a batch of radical anticipation that we mightiness really spot immoderate existent factual enactment connected that front.”

If anything, wide groups look acceptable to enforce unrealistic demands connected Mr. Biden’s nominees for ICE and Customs and Border Protection, utilizing the loftiest of connection to laic down their visions.

“The full national migration strategy indispensable beryllium reimagined to pb with the conception that migration is simply a quality right, and a committedness to regenerate the deportation-centric migration strategy with 1 that embraces equity, diverseness and fairness,” said Laura Peña, a lawyer with the Texas Civil Rights Project.

Customs and Border Protection and ICE were astatine the halfway of immoderate of the astir contentious policies nether the Trump administration, accused of radical profiling, excessive unit and inhumanely handling radical successful custody. The agencies were among a twelve Mr. Trump turned to past summertime successful his bid to “dominate” demonstrators protesting constabulary brutality.

Those are also issues Chief Magnus and Sheriff Gonzalez person faced successful their ain departments.

Last year, Chief Magnus offered to resign aft 2 Latino men died successful his department’s custody. One of the men was naked, handcuffed and look down connected the ground, and said helium could not breathe. When the politician refused to reappraisal the department’s practices, the main brought successful an extracurricular radical to bash so. Some groups person criticized Chief Magnus’s handling of the situation, saying helium took excessively agelong to merchandise applicable footage.

Sheriff Gonzalez, successful 2018, fired a deputy who changeable and killed an unarmed man, which violated the department’s argumentation connected usage of force.

“You’ve got 2 truly innovative constabulary executives who person been tested and cognize what the situation of changing organizations and civilization — they’ve been there,” said Chuck Wexler, the enforcement manager of the Police Executive Research Forum.

Even Mr. Judd, the Border Patrol national chief, said immoderate taste alteration was necessary. In 2019, a radical of Customs and Border Protection employees, including the main of Border Patrol, participated successful backstage Facebook groups and different societal media platforms with posts that included obscene images of Hispanic lawmakers arsenic good arsenic threats to members of Congress.

Mr. Biden has unveiled an migration overhaul that Democrats introduced successful the House successful February. The connection adds a way to citizenship for astir of the 11 cardinal undocumented immigrants surviving successful the United States. But it does not see a important absorption connected expanding borderline security, which is simply a departure from erstwhile bills. It faces an astir intolerable ascent successful the evenly divided Senate, wherever astatine slightest 10 Republican votes would beryllium needed for passage.

Mr. Trump has mostly agreed his enactment down his punitive hard-line approach, and since Mr. Biden took office, legislature Republicans person tirelessly charged that the concern astatine the borderline is retired of control.

With the parties successful Congress successful nary temper to cooperate connected legislation, it volition beryllium up to the chiefs of the migration enforcement agencies to pb immoderate changes. And that volition mean navigating precise conflicting demands.

According to ICE data, arrests are down astir 65 percent. There person been conscionable implicit 13,000 arrests from February done June, compared with astir 40,000 implicit the aforesaid period successful 2020. The pandemic has had a important effect connected the situation. In April 2020, ICE arrested 5,792, which was a 44 percent alteration from a period earlier.

The alteration this twelvemonth tin besides beryllium attributed to Mr. Biden’s guidance requiring ICE to absorption connected convulsive offenders. The mean regular colonisation successful its detention facilities, however, has accrued successful caller months, arsenic much migrants person arrived astatine the southwestern border.

Liberals successful Congress person besides denounced the Biden administration’s enforcement priorities, arguing, for instance, that its explanation of a nationalist information hazard — anyone convicted of an aggravated felony — is “a relic of the racist warfare connected drugs.”

“Immigration enforcement is inherently problematic successful this country,” Mr. Wexler said. “The enactment unit has heard antithetic messages implicit the years, and certainly, coming connected the heels of the Trump administration, there’s going to person to beryllium uncovering the close balance.”

Kitty Bennett contributed research.

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