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Ed Gonzalez, Biden’s Long-Stalled Nominee to Lead ICE, Withdraws

WASHINGTON — Ed Gonzalez, President Biden’s nominee to lead U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, mentioned on Monday that he was withdrawing from consideration after a long-troubled nomination.

In a letter to the president, Mr. Gonzalez, the sheriff of Harris County, Texas, which includes Houston, and a fierce critic of hard-line insurance policies on the company he was tapped to lead, mentioned he had withdrawn “in the best interest of the nation.” He famous that he was nominated 14 months in the past, and mentioned he wanted to focus his “full, undivided attention” on his duties as sheriff.

With the bitter political divide over immigration swirling round his nomination, Sheriff Gonzalez had confronted a troublesome path from the beginning. But his affirmation course of was additional weighed down and delayed for months after Senator James Lankford, Republican of Oklahoma, released a police affidavit that accused Sheriff Gonzalez of home abuse of his spouse, Melissa.

Both Sheriff Gonzalez and his spouse had denied the allegations. The police officer who wrote the affidavit later informed a Senate committee in a deposition that corroborating proof he talked about within the affidavit didn’t exist, in accordance to a abstract of the committee’s findings. An aide for the committee added that its investigators couldn’t discover any proof to corroborate the allegations.

The withdrawal was one more blow each to ICE, which has not had a everlasting director for the reason that Obama administration, and to the Biden administration, which has seen immigration develop into a political legal responsibility because it has struggled to include surges of migrants on the border and change most of the hard-line insurance policies it inherited. It got here on a day that the bodies of at least 46 people believed to be migrants have been discovered useless in and round a tractor-trailer on the outskirts of San Antonio.

Sheriff Gonzalez “would have been a great leader of ICE,” the White House mentioned in a press release. “We thank Sheriff Gonzalez for his willingness to serve in the face of baseless allegations against his family.”

The nomination of Sheriff Gonzalez, who had sharply criticized the Trump administration’s deportation policies, represented a significant departure from the hard-line immigration chiefs who had served beneath President Donald J. Trump. As sheriff, he had ended a partnership with ICE as a result of, he mentioned, this system inspired “illegal racial profiling.”

That repudiation of Mr. Trump, in addition to ICE, drew criticism from Senate Republicans. But for Mr. Biden, the nomination had been a step towards fulfilling his promise of extra humane immigration insurance policies beneath his administration.

“America has shown the world that it’s not only possible to survive, but thrive, as a nation that welcomes those seeking a new home and a better life through hard, honest work,” Sheriff Gonzalez mentioned throughout his affirmation listening to final yr.

Sheriff Gonzalez’s withdrawal was the most recent in a sequence of setbacks for that pledge, for efforts to fill vacant leadership positions on the Homeland Security Department and for Mr. Biden’s immigration agenda as a complete. An extended-planned try to elevate a significant pandemic-era immigration restriction was blocked by a federal judge final month. Another federal decide on Saturday suspended a Biden administration policy that prioritized the arrest of undocumented immigrants who’re thought of a risk, rendering tens of millions of individuals susceptible to deportation.

Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the homeland safety secretary, has additionally confronted withering criticism by Republican lawmakers as a momentous surge in migration throughout the southwestern border has overwhelmed immigration agencies. And deportations of Haitian emigrants have spiked even because the Biden administration faces criticism from progressive teams and lawmakers over how it treats Black migrants.

Sheriff Gonzalez mentioned he would now dedicate his vitality to main his division and addressing the rising crime and overcrowded jails in his county.

“I am grateful to President Biden for the honor of nominating me,” he said on Twitter on Monday. “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.”

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