Portland has mastered the art of frustrating and confounding federal immigration officials.
In an email exchange WW obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, one U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement official captured the federal disdain for our city and state, describing Oregon as a "liberal dumpster." Sheriff Mike Reese has frustrated ICE agents by denying their requests for mug shots, fingerprints and jail rosters. Protesters shut down a federal building where immigration officials worked last summer, and Mayor Ted Wheeler told the police to leave the demonstrators alone unless someone's life was in danger.
Perhaps most significantly, one elected official who represents Portland has made a name for himself as a one-man demolition squad chipping away at ICE's foundation.
U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) has arguably come closest to toppling the federal immigration enforcement agency. Last summer, he forced the public to confront the Department of Homeland Security over its family separation policy by showing up at a child detention center in Texas and live-streaming as the guards called the cops on him. Then, last month, he revealed leaked internal DHS documents that showed the agency intentionally separated families and put kids in cages in order to discourage people from seeking asylum at the U.S. border.
"Americans should be outraged," he said in a statement last June, "that our taxpayer dollars are being used to inflict spiteful and traumatizing policies on innocent children."