ICE Shuts Down Its Portland Office After Protest Camp Blocks the Entrance

The federal immigration agency closed its building because of "safety concerns resulting from the ongoing protests".

Occupy ICE Headquarters in Portland, OR on June 19, 2018. (Diego G Diaz)

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.

Here's the agency's full statement on the closure:

“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) fully respects the rights of all people to voice their opinion without interference. ICE remains committed to immigration enforcement consistent with federal law and agency policy. The Federal Protective Service was called to the ICE office on Macadam Avenue Tuesday afternoon due to security concerns resulting from the ongoing protests at this location. Questions regarding arrests that took place should be directed to the Federal Protective Service. ICE operations at this location have been temporarily halted due to security concerns. Normal operations will resume once security concerns have been addressed.

“Appointments scheduled for Wednesday at the ICE office on Macadam Avenue have been canceled. ICE deportation officers will touch base with individuals who had scheduled appointments at this location to reschedule. These appointments will not be reported as missed check-ins.”

Update: As ICE shut down its operation in Portland, the focus of some activists shifted away from the federal agency and toward the Portland City Council.

The Democratic Socialists of America Portland chapter published a list of specific demands for Portland city commissioners and Mayor Ted Wheeler. The group asked for the city to pull out of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, create an office of immigrant rights, fund legal defense services for immigrants, and stop any communication with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security about the protesters camping outside of the ICE building.

"We demand that the city of Portland actually live up to its promises and be an authentic sanctuary city," the group wrote.

Shortly after ICE announced that it would temporarily close its Portland office, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that ended his administration's family separation policy.

"We're going to have strong, very strong borders but we are going to keep the families together," Trump said, according to The New York Times. "I didn't like the sight or the feeling of families being separated."

However, the executive order upholds the administration's zero-tolerance policy and says every person who enters the country illegally will be prosecuted. Instead of separating parents and children as the parents await prosecution, the executive order says the U.S. government will seek to find or build detention centers where families can be housed together.

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