Tag Archives: ed gonzalez

Sheriff Ed Goes To Washington?

First of all, congratulations to Sheriff Ed Gonzalez on his appointment by the Biden administration to the position of Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

I met Ed while he helped get Adrian Garcia elected Sheriff back in 2008 and then rooted him on when he ran for City Council District H to take over where Garcia left off. Intelligent, compassionate, and responsive are a few good words to describe him. All-around good guy is probably the better descriptor. Professionally, I’d expect him to do a great job in pretty much any capacity.

That said, ICE has had a lot of problems since way before Trump made it worse. It had problems during the Obama era, too. It is a relatively new agency created after the racism and bigotry that came about post-9/11. No one on either side in DC seems to want to get rid of ICE or the detention boondoggles that come from it. Reminder: While President Biden has banned private prisons in the Bureau of Prisons, he didn’t budge at all on immigrant warehousing and remains steadfast in warehousing children–just through another department.

Whether one points to ICE, or anything under ICE, like the Border Patrol, these agencies were created from racist sentiment and their practices are continually just as racist. It’s easy to say that structural change is needed, and that the culture of these agencies must be changed; however, no one person can do that without really taking a wrecking ball to the entire agency and creating something better. Simply changing a policy here and there will not rid the agency of its racist and corrupt practices. That’s why we say #AbolishICE.

Well, it is obvious that President Biden does not have this in the plan and Democrats are too damn squeamish to do anything about it. Unfortunately, that means Ed Gonzalez will be receive the brunt of criticism from both sides of the issue–those who desire change and compassion versus those who want to round-up and warehouse anyone brown or foreign with impunity and for profit. The centrists will argue for something in-between, but they aren’t the people who have been historically abused and targeted by ICE. The rest of us will just hope for the best and know that whatever happens, it is Joe Biden who is in charge.

And, with this said, a recent article regarding the Biden administration’s upcoming review of the extremist threat within Homeland Security (which includes ICE) gives some hope, as long as it is an honest and thorough assessment. Or, as DHS Secretary Mayorkas stated, “As we work to safeguard the nation and our values, we must be vigilant in our efforts to identify and combat domestic violent extremism within both the broader community and our own organization. Violent extremism has no place at DHS and we will work with urgency and focus to address it.”

Detention Watch Network said it best in regards to Gonzalez’s appointment:

“People uniting for the rights and dignity of immigrants will soon have a new face to direct demands to at ICE, which include:

  • Releasing people from immigration detention halting deportations (including Title 42 expulsions) amid the COVID-19 pandemic in the interest of the health of those detained and the public.  
  • Closing detention facilities, including immediately ending all contracts with private prison corporations and state and local governments as a first step towards ending the harmful detention system entirely.
  • Adopting generous prosecutorial discretion guidelines in order to protect as many people as possible from detention and deportation. 
  • Ending state and local entanglement with immigration enforcement, reducing the pipeline to detention and deportation.

“Under Gonzalez’s leadership, we are eager to see immediate shifts in ICE’s culture and operations. During the Trump era the agency saw a constant revolving door of short-lived, draconian leadership that double-downed on cruel and punitive enforcement practices. If confirmed, Gonzalez must hit the ground running to meet immigrant rights advocates’ demands and peel back the layers of secrecy that have created a deadly culture of impunity at the agency, where accountability is evaded at every turn.”

“And while we are looking for transformative culture change at ICE, we know that the racist underpinnings of ICE will continue regardless of who’s in charge.  Ultimately, ICE’s premise for existing is rooted in white supremacy, rendering the agency rotten to its core. ICE needs to be abolished.” 

Houston organizing group, FIEL, had this to say:

We have worked with Sheriff Gonzalez for a number of years and what we can attest to is the fact that he has been and continues to be a man who listens to and takes input from the community.  We understand that the role he is about to undertake is a huge and controversial role and we wish him well in this endeavour. However we have some things we would not like to see again such as massive raids, lack of prosecutorial discretion and continued separation of hard working families.  Some of the things that we hope to see in policy changes would be: 1. We would like a more just and uniform application of prosecutorial/administrative relief. 2. No more massive raids which send a shockwave of fear into our communities destroying community and government relations. 3. A definite end to the 287G program and Secure Communities which are policies that Sheriff Gonzalez understands hurt communities. 4. Treat people more humanely by suspending the use of ankle monitors for people who do not pose a flight risk. 5. Ending the ‘Collateral Damage’ policy when it comes to ICE enforcement in our communities. We are hopeful for a more positive future for ICE and at the end that we will see the agency’s power diminish as we move forward on immigration reform.

FIEL Press Release 4/27/2021

Obviously, when someone you know “makes it,” you can’t help but be excited for that person. ICE, though, is one of those agencies whose history reeks of hate, racism, corruption and more. While the leadership of the agency under Biden may say one thing, it is the rank and file and their bigoted Border Patrol union and associated groups that get more attention from the media and add to the bigotry already promoted by the Republican Party and white supremacists, thus roadblocking any change that is proposed. It is my hope that Director(-designate) Gonzalez is able to change the culture of the organization to one that is more compassionate in the realm of migration and that controls its messaging from the top. It is long past due that migrants be treated with compassion–in policy and rhetoric–rather than criminalized and hunted by the largest police force in the country.

Best of luck to Ed Gonzalez.

Sheriff Gonzalez Ends 287(g)

trumpfamilycrossing950As the Trump regime continues its onslaught against Mexicans and other Latinos, immigrant and citizen, with a steroid-laden immigrant hunting plan, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office under Sheriff Ed Gonzalez has ended its 287(g) agreement with ICE, citing a burden on resources and the need to place resources out in the field.

The withdrawal of the sheriff’s deputies will still allow ICE officials to come to the jail and screen jail inmates to determine their immigration status and the county will hold them for deportation if requested, Gonzalez said.

The sheriff said serious overcrowding in the county jail complex, where staff shortages have hiked overtime costs to $1 million every two weeks, has forced him to deploy his ICE-trained deputies elsewhere. He said his decision was not political “but an issue of resources,” explaining the deputies may also be assigned to help improve clearance rates of major crimes or ad to the patrol division.

“After thoughtful consideration, I’ve decided to opt out of the voluntary 287(g) program,” said Gonzalez, who sent ICE officials notification of his decision Tuesday. “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.”

The thing about local jails is that they’ve usually had the ability to report immigration detainers  that pop up on the national database so that ICE can pick up folks at their own discretion and with their own use of resources (other than local jailers). 287(g), which was always a voluntary program, used local resources to exclusively work on increasing deportation numbers in quicker fashion, including low-grade offenders who were not targets for deportation.

Of course, this was evident during the Obama era which broke deportation records, and counties like Harris and Arizona’s Maricopa were among the leaders in helping increase deportation numbers, while Congress did nothing to fix a broken immigration system. It wasted resources and was purely a political tool for whomever was in office at any level. Let’s face it, it became part of Obama’s push for “comprehensive immigration reform” as a possible dealmaker to offer Republicans. It didn’t work, obviously. Because it was in place, it also caused stress for good elected officials who wanted to rid their agencies of the flawed program, but had to deal with threats from right-wing elected officials.

For Sheriff Gonzalez, who also recently provided a statement against Senate Bill 4, the so-called anti-sanctuary city bill currently in the Texas House, he will have to deal with the ire of right-wingers like Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick, and some of the members of the Harris County Commissioner’s Court. Gonzalez, though, has the right idea. His decision is all about resources and public safety, while the Republican and Trump plans are all about fear and hate. And that should be the narrative of this debate.

This decision has been a long time in coming. This blogger had quite a few debates with the previous Democratic Sheriff Adrian Garcia about 287(g). And his Republican replacement was pretty much useless on the issue. Unfortunately, the Trump regime is hell-bent on hunting Mexicans and others. And even a lack of 287(g) will still leave an open door for Trump and his immigrant hunters at local jails. Add SB4, if Texas House Speaker Straus allows it to move forward, and local law enforcement could still be a part of the terror.

What people must understand is that we are in a whole different era. The same “bipartisan” rules no longer apply. Given Trump’s attitude, not even civil discussion. The right-wing, anti-immigrant members of Congress and state elected officials we dealt with in the past now have a leader to do everything they’ve ever wanted. And Republicans (and Democrats) who simply sit back and say nothing are just as bad, or worse, than those we’re dealing with today. Hate is hate. It cannot be defended.

The political implications are enormous, though. And 2018 is right around the corner. Republicans are useless, but Democrats still could rebuild into something with a spine, especially on immigration, detention, and deportation issues. It’s the one issue that they’ve felt useful for campaigns, as if they were actually going to attract bigoted votes in gubernatorial elections (2014). Instead, it demoralizes voters–base voters. Even voters like me, lifelong Dems, who have felt a need to skip around candidates during the last decade because they’ll say something stupid on immigration, or on child refugees from Central America, feel disconnected with the Democrats. Something’s gotta give.

For now, though, things seem ominous, even with a victory like ridding Harris County of 287(g) (Kudos to United We Dream-Houston). Trump’s new immigrant hunting plan expands the targets to include many more undocumented immigrants than the Obama era. Whether Trump sends out deportation forces or not, the fear is unsettling and certainly destabilizes communities and local economies. The Republican intent has never been about public safety, but about hate.

It’s time for ALL to fight back, and for the fight not to be left only to the immigrants under attack. Stand for all!

 

 

 

287(g) Rally: Sheriff, Mayor Respond

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Credit: J.M. Diaz

Sheriff Ed Gonzalez appeared at this morning’s rally against 287(g), a flawed immigrant removal program.

Gonzalez reiterated his support of immigrant rights and his promise to rid Harris County of the controversial program. He did, however, ask for patience and time to study and navigate its ending because of its ties to federal and state funding, and because he wants to ensure that such a program targets violent and serious criminals. During the press conference, he also reiterated that the program is run within the jail and not out in the field and that his deputies will not be targeting individual suspects because of immigration status.

Local immigrant rights activists are seeking policy changes and strong statements of support to undo programs that target immigrants and have run amok of their stated intents. Programs which basically federalize local law enforcement are flawed and have been a cause for racial profiling, wasted resources, family separation, and downgraded local economies.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, also sought out by immigrant rights activists recently responded with his strongest statement yet.

“I know there are a lot of families and children who are afraid and worried right now about what might happen to them. I want them to know that Houston is, and always has been, a welcoming city, where we value and appreciate diversity. HPD is not the Immigration and Naturalization Service. We don’t profile, and we are not going to start profiling people to determine whether they are here illegally. It hasn’t happened under previous mayors, and it will not happen under my administration.”

Still, at the end of the day, it is policy changes that are sought. And political promises that are expected to be met. And in the era of Trump and his rampant executive orders, leaders feel the need to navigate carefully or else funding may be lost. With the State of Texas attacking elected officials and about to begin consideration of a racial profiling legalization bill in Austin (SB4), it seems some fear taking on the Governor and his bigoted threats.

Stay strong, elected officials. People are counting on you!

Click here for video from United We Dream

Gonzalez Continues With 287(g); Goal Remains to Stop Program

A protest of immigrant removal program 287(g) is slated for today, January 26, 2017 at the Sheriff’s HQ at 10AM. This is in response to what is seen as a lack of action by the newly minted Sheriff who made a campaign promise to rid his office of the program; as well as Trump’s recent actions on so-called sanctuary cities and other immigration policies.

In an interview on Mundo Hispanico with Sylvia Oben, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez states that he didn’t know the amount of grant funds that were connected to the immigrant removal program and how difficult it would be to leave the program; however, ridding the county of 287(g) remains a goal, but that it has to be in a responsible manner that ensures people who commit violent and serious crimes are detained like anyone else.

Gonzalez also touched on his priorities, which include jail overcrowding and bail reform to decrease overcrowding. But that becoming a sanctuary county, like Travis County, is not being discussed.

That funds and a flawed program like 287(g) are connected is not a new thing. If anything, it seems like the only excuse used by law enforcement leaders to keep the program. That’s, unless you’re an anti-immigrant zealot who just enjoys targeting immigrants. The program is known to net few violent criminals, as was seen when Harris County became one of the top counties to hand over to ICE low-grade offenders. The vast majority of law enforcement leaders see it as a useless program that leads to racial profiling in the field and is just ineffective.

So, the goal remains to get rid of 287(g), but perhaps his political consultants should have advised him to not make such Obama-esque promises. We just ended eight years with 3,000,000 deportations, thousands warehoused in local jails and private prisons, families separated, economies affected. And much of this was assisted by the last Democratic Sheriff in Harris County.

When a politician makes a promise, they’re expected to act quickly. Or else, they should just say what Gonzalez said in the interview and not in his campaign flyers.

By all means, please protest today.

Trump Leaves DACA Alone For Now

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Credit:  Lalo Alcaraz

 

The Trump campaign-turned-administration has perfected the way it instills fear in communities. Of course, the fear has created plenty of activists who will hopefully remain committed to a multitude of issues utilized by Trump to gain enough votes in a few states to win the electoral vote.  Monday was a stressful day for DACA beneficiaries–numbering about 750,000 nationally. By mid-afternoon, it seemed Trump left Obama’s executive order which created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals alone.

Even his COS Priebus and his alternative mouthpiece Spicer seemed to try to calm pro-migrant forces a bit by stating that the priority is “criminal” immigrants. Cesar Espinosa, ED of FIEL, a local immigrant rights group, asked, “What is ‘criminal?'”

The Obama administration used the same kind of program to deport 3 million and warehouse thousands more in private prisons. Early on, the majority of deportees were convicted of low-grade, non-deportable crimes, but were still sent to home countries, breaking up families, and affecting local economies. Now, with 750,000 DACA lives hanging in the balance, hundreds of thousands more of their parents, and millions more who are simply working and contributing to their communities waiting for Trump’s next move, there’s more fear and stress in the community.

The lack of action by Trump today didn’t provide much comfort. Activists, though, are looking to leadership at the local level.

The newly elected Sheriff of Travis County, Sally Hernandez announced her department would not cooperate with the Trump administration and has earned the ire of Greg Abbott who has gotten really good at making threats about funding. El Paso’s Democratic Sheriff, on the other hand, has decided to cooperate with Trump because he fears losing grant money.

Locally, activists await action from new Sheriff Ed Gonzalez. Gonzalez promised to rid the department of 287g, an immigrant removal program which provides grant money to the department. Since taking office, he hasn’t mentioned anything about that promise, and already there is the start of a movement requesting action from him and Mayor Sylvester Turner.

It’s only Day 5 and real issues are now being discussed. And we also have the Texas Lege to deal with who are bringing out multiple cans of crazy. Let’s stay focused.

Run-Off is Done; Dem Slate is Set

donkickIt was the kind of run-off that mostly had good candidates. I picked my favorites and went 3 – 5, and other races, I didn’t even pick. Still, come the time to click [REFRESH], there was a little excitement.

Big congrats to Ed Gonzalez who will be the Democratic nominee for Harris County Sheriff. I’ve known Ed for a while and I’ve always given him my support. I think he’d make a great sheriff; actually, I think he’d be great in any position to which he sets his mind.

In the 61st District Court, Fredericka Phillips had a great election day and squeezed out a 200+ vote victory over Julie Countiss, who had a strong mail ballot showing. This was the most exciting race of the night as we awaited the results and saw an exchange of leads.

Constable Chris Diaz of Pct. 2 had a decisive victory in his race earning over 72% of the vote. Congrats, Constable.

I’d like to give a huge tip of my sombrero to Tanya Makany-Rivera, candidate for JP Pct. 1. She was outspent by a lot and took on some heavies in the local establishment, but she never gave up until the last vote was cast. She’s good people and I hope to see her on the ballot again in the future. Congrats to Eric William Carter who won the race. I met him during the race and he’s personable and friendly, which are a couple of qualities needed on the people’s court. Good luck to him.

To my friend Rabeea Collier–You ran great race for the 11th District Court! I met Rabeea back in 2008 when the Hillary-Obama race was at its hottest–during Senate District Convention. She fought hard for her Obama delegates, while I fought hard for the Hillary delegates. It was quite fun. She’s another candidate I hope to see on the ballot in the future. Congrats to Kristen Hawkins who will carry the Donkey flag toward November. She’ll be a great candidate.

And congrats to all the Dems from the top to the bottom of the ballot.

Run-Off Day – May 24, 2016

Today is run-off day, and as is usually the case during low-turn-out elections, polling locations will be consolidated around Harris County. So, you better check with Harris County before you go to your usual election day polling location. While you’re at it, get a copy of your sample ballot.

Of course, there is the Stace Run-Off Slate to consider:

My choices:

SBOE6:  Jasmine Jenkins

District Judge, 11th District:  Rabeea Collier

District Judge, 61st District:  Fredericka Phillips

District Judge, 215 District:  JoAnn Storey

Sheriff:  Ed Gonzalez

The NIMBY, but I would if I could vote for them Slate:

JP1:  Tanya Makany-Rivera

Constable Pct 2:  Christopher Diaz

Constable Pct 3:  Michel Pappillion

 

 

Ed Gonzalez Calls on HCSO to Reinstate Inspectors, Diversify Staff

cafeed2Ed Gonzalez, Democratic candidate for Harris County Sheriff, challenged current Sheriff Hickman to reinstate jail inspectors and diversify the staff if any criminal justice reform plan is to succeed.

Here’s the press release from Gonzalez:

Ed Gonzalez, the leading Democratic candidate for Sheriff, called on Sheriff Ron Hickman today to join the county’s push for criminal justice reform by reinstating jail inspectors and replacing his command staff with a more diverse leadership team

Gonzalez applauded yesterday’s action by county commissioners to accept a $2 million grant from the MacArthur Foundation and spend millions more on reforms that include expanding pre-trial diversion programs, implementing a new bail system and improving relationships with minority communities.

“Commissioners are moving in the right direction with their new reform plan, but it won’t be enough until real reform comes to the Sheriff’s office,” said Gonzalez.

“Sheriff Hickman must immediately reinstate the jail inspectors and the investigative unit he dismantled and replace his command staff with a leadership team that is more reflective of the communities served by the sheriff’s office,” said Gonzalez.

Hickman’s first act after being appointed sheriff was to replace the existing diverse command staff with all white men. After intense pressure, Hickman later made some additional appointments, but the command staff is nowhere near reflective of the communities that make up Harris County. Gonzalez expressed concern that, until the sheriff truly diversified his command staff, the county’s new racial and ethnic diversity coordinator would continue to face barriers in rebuilding the trust of minority communities in the criminal justice system.

“If the county’s law enforcement leader fails to recognize the need for real diversity,” said Gonzalez, “what chance will the county’s new criminal justice diversity coordinator have to succeed?”

Gonzalez also expressed serious concerns about the ability of the county’s new jail coordinator to speed up the release of inmates awaiting bail, a key element of the new reform plan, given existing management problems at the jail.

Earlier this month, a suspect awaiting bail on a charge of stealing a guitar was beaten to death by inmates in his holding cell – continuing a pattern of violence, abuse and neglect at the jail that was exposed in a 2015 Houston Chronicle investigation. Hickman’s response was to reduce oversight at the jail, including dismantling the investigative unit that had uncovered some of the worst cases of abuse and neglect.

“For the county’s new reform plan to succeed, we must incease oversight, transparency and accountability at the county jail,” said Gonzalez. “That’s why I’m calling on Sheriff Hickman to live up to the values of this new plan by diversifying his command staff and reinstating the jail inspectors he cut earlier this year.”

Ed Gonzalez is a leading candidate in the May 24 Democratic Party primary runoff election for Harris County Sheriff. He is a veteran Houston Police officer who rose to the rank of Sergeant, led murder investigations and served on the elite hostage negotiating team. He served two terms on the City Council, chairing the Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee and becoming mayor pro-tem. On the Houston City Council, Gonzalez led efforts at criminal justice reform – including creating the Houston Center for Sobriety, which keeps people who need help out of the criminal justice system and allows police officers to spend more time on patrol, catching criminals.

 

Ed Gonzalez Slams Hickman’s Proposed Cuts at HCSO

cafeed2Ed Gonzalez, Democratic candidate for County Sheriff, came out swinging against current Sheriff Ron Hickman’s proposed cuts to dismantle an investigative unit and slashing the number of jail inspectors. Put another way, Hickman is making jail operations less transparent when much reform is needed.

“This is a very poor decision that shows a disappointing lack of judgment and leadership on the part of our current sheriff,” said Gonzalez. “At a time when more incidents of abuse and neglect continue to surface, we should be increasing transparency and oversight at the jail, not taking a step backward.”

Gonzalez pointed to a recent investigation by the Houston Chronicle that “exposed avoidable in-custody deaths, civil rights abuses, beatings, unjust prosecutions of prisoners and allegations of medical neglect” at the jail.

“Pulling back on reforms to increase transparency and accountability not only compromises public safety, but also erodes the public’s trust in law enforcement and the hard-working deputies and staff who are working to keep our county safe,” said Gonzalez.

Gonzalez is running for the Democratic nomination for Harris County Sheriff. Offering over 18 years with Houston PD, he was also a murder investigator. While on the Houston City Council, he chaired the Public Safety and Homeland Security committee and served as Mayor Pro-Tem.

Early voting begins on February 16 and runs through February 26. Democratic Primary day is March 1.

 

Ed Gonzalez Files for Harris County Sheriff

cafeed2Mayor Pro-Tem Ed Gonzalez announced through Facebook that he had filed to seek the Dem nomination for Harris County Sheriff.

This afternoon I officially filed for a place on the ballot to serve as your next Harris County Sheriff!

I’m a proud life-long Houstonian and have spent the last 24 years as a public servant. As our city’s Mayor Pro-Tem and as an 18-year veteran of the Houston Police Department, I’ve dedicated my career to: crafting innovative and effective solutions to modern-day crime issues, transforming government through the use of innovation and technology, improving mobility and infrastructure, and ensuring that our city’s future leaders have access to world-class educational opportunities.

As your next Sheriff, I’ll keep our families safe, the budget balanced, and criminals off our streets. I’ll ensure that the Harris County Sheriff’s Office is transparent, efficient, and responsive to the needs of every neighborhood. Thank you for your support as we embark on this campaign!

With Gonzalez’s entry into the 2016 political scene, we have an exciting candidate with a record of effective service to the community. As Mayor Pro-Tem, his reach has gone beyond the District H he serves. And, as he finishes his third term, he’s kept on working hard for Houston as was noticed this past weekend with the opening of CafeCollege Houston–a service for all Houstonians who want to go to college or find information on how to change careers and earn workforce certifications in which Gonzalez played a major role in developing. Obviously, his service as a local police officer gives him an edge in regards to political viability and the ability to manage HCSO.

I couldn’t think of anyone better to lead our countywide slate in 2016.