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Immigrants Are Showing Up for Meetings at the ICE Building – but No One Is There

“The concern is that people who have appointments will be counted as missing a meeting. There’s no way to hold ICE accountable.”

At least 18 individuals have shown up to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Portland for appointments today, unaware that the building is temporarily shut down.

Immigrants may have meetings with ICE agents as they seek asylum, pursue citizenship or maintain agreements with the agency that allow some undocumented immigrants to live and work in the U.S. without legal residency.

"The concern is that people who have appointments will be counted as missing a meeting," says Liliana Luna, who showed up to protest and who has been translating for immigrants who do not know the building is closed. "There's no way to hold ICE accountable."

A missed meeting can put immigrants at risk for deportation.

Two of the protesters, Luna and Sofia Velasquez, have volunteered as translators for the immigrants who have shown up at the building, many of whom do not speak English.

Velasquez says she spoke with a man who had driven five hours to make his appointment, confused to see the doors shuttered. Velasquez says when the man contacted his lawyer, he was advised to show up every day until the facility was open. He told Velasquez that he is unable to keep coming back to the offices because he has to work.

ICE temporarily halted operations at its Portland office on Macadam Avenue after protesters surrounded the building and blocked its exits for days. The occupation began on June 17, and activists say it will go on at least until a rally planned for Sunday where several state legislators will speak out against federal immigration policies.

The federal agency cited safety concerns as the reason for closing the building, and Department of Homeland Security officers escorted some ICE employees out of the building on Tuesday evening.

An ICE spokeswoman said that agents would contact people who had cancelled meetings and reassure them that the cancellations would not count as a missed check-in. It appears that many people were not notified.

"Appointments scheduled for Wednesday at the ICE office on Macadam Avenue have been canceled," a spokeswoman said in an email. "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."

ICE did not immediately answer WW's questions about whether agents had informed people about the cancellations or whether future appointments would also be cancelled.

Alejandro Grijalva drove to Portland from Eugene with a friend who is seeking asylum from El Salvador. He says he called ICE to ask what to do and was told to go to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services building. Despite the inconvenience of missing the meeting, Grijalva says he was happy to see the protesters blocking the entrance to the building.

"This is great," he says. "I wish this was happening in Eugene. [ICE] is hurting our families and communities. I admire everyone here."

During one hour on Wednesday afternoon, at least two confused families showed up to the facility—neither spoke English.

One pair asked for their photo to be taken in front of the shuttered doors as proof of their failed attempt to show up for their scheduled ICE check-in.

A note on the door to the ICE building says officials will contact people who had appointments to make new plans.

A father and daughter who live in Portland showed up at the building expecting to meet with ICE for a scheduled check-in.

"No one from ICE contacted us," said the father, who did not want to be named because of his immigration status, through a translator. "We've had this appointment for six months. Of course we will keep showing up every day, but there is no guarantee it will be open.