Around 150 people gathered outside the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Southwest Portland today, marking the fourth day of a demonstration that has resulted in the closure of the building.
The demonstration took place in nearly 100-degree heat, and throughout the day, supporters circled the encampment distributing cold water, popsicles, pizza and burritos. (A Fifty Licks ice cream truck also showed up to with free scoops.) Around 30 tents were set up outside the building, near a station for sign-making materials, a medical booth, multiple food and water areas, and even a small library.
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."
Velasquez—who helped explain what was going on to Spanish-speaking individuals with appointments at ICE today—says she will stay for as long as she is needed at the occupation.
The demonstration is set to continue at least until Sunday, when elected officials plan to arrive in support.