Hundreds of protesters in Portland (of course) have surrounded the area’s I.C.E. building, not letting anyone in or out, essentially holding the building under siege. Under normal circumstances, this would be considered domestic terrorism. But the Portland police do nothing and let the protesters have free reign to create havoc wherever they go.
The protest, dubbed “Occupy ICE PDX” online, began on Sunday, June 17, and has only grown in size since. Last night, hundreds of people gathered outside the facility to show their support—and dozens set up tents to spend the night. The occupation has forced ICE to close the regional office building today, citing “security concerns.” In a media statement, the agency said its “normal operations will resume once security concerns have been addressed.”
Judging by the growing momentum behind the ICE protest, that may take longer than a day.
Bureros says the protest doesn’t plan on wrapping up until one of two things happens: Either ICE leaves Portland or the US upholds international asylum standards. The group is also called on the feds to offer mental health services to the hundreds children and families who’ve already been separated by ICE agents.
“Just because these children have been reunited with their families doesn’t mean they don’t have lifetime of trauma,” says Bureros, who has children of his own.
According to Bureros and other members of the group, protesters have mostly been interacting with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officers—which oversees ICE—not city or county law enforcement. DHS allegedly arrested one man yesterday afternoon, after the group attempted to block an ICE vehicle from leaving the parking lot.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler addressed these concerns during a city council meeting this morning, calling the Trump administration’s immigration policy an “abomination.”
“I drove by the demonstration yesterday, and it seemed very peaceful,” Wheeler said. “I want to be very clear: I do not want the Portland Police Bureau to be engaged or sucked into a conflict—particularly from a federal agency that I believe is on the wrong track. If they’re looking for a bail-out from this mayor, they’re looking in the wrong place.”
The Portland chapter of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) penned a letter this afternoon to the Portland City Council with its own specific demands. The group asks the city withdraw from the Joint Terrorism Task Force (a controversial partnership between federal agents and city officials), fund legal defense services for undocumented immigrants (an initiative Comissioner Chloe Eudaly included in the city budget), and cease all cooperation with the DHS agents in arresting anyone at the Portland ICE protest.
Video from the protest shows several people surrounding a car trying to leave the parking lot, preventing the person’s exit. (Courtesy of Oregon Cop Watcher) [LANGUAGE WARNING]
In other videos, protesters try other intimidation tactics on I.C.E. agents and other employees who work at the building. [LANGUAGE WARNING]
Three cars with darkened windows exited a garage and attempted to drive out the entrance. Some twenty protesters formed a line and locked arms. Staring down the drivers, “They blocked them from leaving the facility,” said Jacob Bureros, an organizer with the Direct Action Alliance.
The vehicles went back inside the ICE garage. Two officers with the Department of Homeland Security showed up to negotiate with the protesters. Jenny Nickolaus, another organizer with DAA, said a couple of dozen people engaged with the police in bulletproof vests. The two cops asked for “reasonable accommodation from the protesters.”
When asked what that meant, says Nickolaus, the DHS police pleaded with protesters “to allow nine ICE employees stuck inside to be able to ‘to go home to their families.’”
The protesters exploded with outrage “at the ridiculous irony in that statement,” says Nickolaus.
Bureros says, “People started yelling, ‘Oh, you need to go home to your families? What about the families you are holding.’” The ICE prison in Portland is designed for temporary detention. Immigrants are usually shipped off within days on buses operated by the GEO group, a private prison-industry contractor, to a long-term ICE prison in Tacoma, Washington.
Ironically, the protest is preventing immigrants from having their scheduled meetings with I.C.E. officials to obtain legal status, as Not-quite-as-wacked-out-but-still-crazed-leftist Willamette Week adds:
Protesters began arriving at the facility on Sunday, June 17, in response to a Trump administration policy that has separated an estimated 2,000 children from their families at the border. ICE employees left on Tuesday evening, and didn’t return to the office Wednesday.
An ICE spokeswoman announced tonight that the ICE building would remain closed on Thursday.
This afternoon, President Donald Trump signed an executive order which promises to keep families together, but the protestors are not satisfied. Some promise to stay until the Portland ICE building is closed forever.
Rachel Jensen, who took the day off of work to be at the occupation, said, “I just don’t have any faith that [Trump will] do the right thing.”
“There’s a couple thousand tragedies right now, and those parents need help finding their kids again,” added Jennifer Ruth, who was at the protest with her two daughters. She says she will keep protesting until the families who were separated are reunited.
Another occupier Kai Hayashi, added that the group’s mission is to, “abolish ICE and to show the world that we won’t stand for policies that are so traumatic to kids—regardless of citizenship, regardless of status—it is not humane to separate kids from their families.”
Dozens of immigrants who arrived for appointments were surprised to find the building was closed.
“We’re shutting down ICE. We’re trying to make it not exist anymore,” one of the demonstrators explained to a man who had arrived for an appointment.
Sofia Velasquez, who is a student at PSU and volunteer with Latino youth groups, explained that for her, this demonstration was personal.
“The first time I had an encounter with ICE I was in my mom’s belly,” she said. “This is an issue that we’ve been fighting for forever. Now it’s just intensified because of Trump. What has frightened people is that there are children involved and you’re visually seeing these children calling out for help.”
“I have the privilege of saying that I have citizenship,” she continued, “so I’m not afraid to stand next to this building, but I know that there are people who wish they could be here but can’t.”
The Portland demonstrators protesting the Trump administration’s family separation policy have achieved a small victory.
After several days of protests blocking the front entrance, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has temporarily shut down its operations at its Portland office.
The agency says safety concerns from staffers who had been blocked from leaving the facility have “temporarily halted” ICE operations.
Protesters started occupying the property around the ICE building on Macadam Avenue on Sunday evening, and the protest has grown to include more than two dozen tents and at times hundreds of demonstrators.
An ICE spokeswoman said in an email that the agency will re-open the building when the safety concerns from the protest have been addressed.
Apparently numerous elected officials in the area plan on partaking in the ongoing siege on Sunday.
To combat the 90+ degree weather in Portland, a local ice cream vendor, Fifty Licks, did the socialist thing and gave out free ice cream to the protesters.
Donald Trump signed an executive order yesterday, reversing his decision to separate immigrant children from their parents after crossing the US’ southern border. The order does not end Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy, which places all incoming immigrants (even those seeking asylum from domestic violence, religious prosecution, or gang warfare) into detention. The only change? Kids will be held in cages with their parents, instead of by themselves. Oh, and there’s absolutely no plan to help the 2,400+ kids who’ve already been taken from their parents reunite with their family members. Trump, who’s yet to claim any responsibility for this traumatic policy, is forcing Congress to consider another border wall bill today.
This order doesn’t affect the group of protesters camped out in front of a regional ICE office in Portland. They don’t plan on ending the protest until ICE leaves Portland or the US starts following international asylum standards.
Meanwhile, “Portland’s Resistance” vows that the I.C.E. building will never open again.