'Occupy ICE' protests emerge across the country

'Occupy ICE' protests emerge across the country
© Getty

Protesters are occupying Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities across the country, inspired by a Portland protest that resulted in the indefinite shutdown of an ICE detention center on Wednesday.

"Occupy ICE" protesters are blocking the loading dock of ICE headquarters in New York, have set up tents in front of an ICE facility in Los Angeles and are gathered outside of a detention center in Washington state.

Though the protests are not led by any one group, the Democratic Socialists of America are involved in most states, alongside groups associated with prison abolition, immigration rights and anarchist collectives. The protests are calling for an abolition of ICE and an end to what they call human rights abuses by the criminal justice system, alongside other reforms.

ADVERTISEMENT
The Portland protest began in response to the Trump administration’s policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the border, a result of the administration's “zero tolerance” policy toward illegal border crossings.

ICE spokeswoman Carissa Cutrell told The Hill on Wednesday that the agency "fully respects the rights of all people to voice their opinion without interference" and "ICE remains committed to immigration enforcement consistent with federal law and agency policy."

The Hill reached out to ICE and the Department of Homeland Security for further comment.

In New York, dozens of protesters organized by the Metropolitan Anarchist Coordinating Council (MACC) are camping outside of an ICE office building in Manhattan on Saturday. They are blocking the loading dock through which ICE vans bring immigrants in and out of the building, MACC organizer Marisa Holmes said to The Hill.

“For the last year or two, we've seen an escalation of repression, an escalation of criminalization and dehumanization of immigrants as a result of Trump's election,” Holmes said. “We’ve seen more of a consolidation happening of Homeland Security and ICE and unbelievable, indiscriminate capturing of people and detaining without due process.”

“I think right now is really a turning point where we have to ask ourselves what kind of society and what kind of world we want to live, what is acceptable to do to other human beings and what is not,” Holmes added. “We cannot allow this level of dehumanization and violence to be normalized. It’s horrifying.” 

She said there have been no arrests but protests in front of the loading dock has prevented ICE from bringing people into the building. The protests began on Thursday and are ongoing. 

“They’re trying to rough people up one-on-one and deter us from being here,” Holmes said. “We continue to stay and we're going to bring more people and we're not going to be deterred.”

In Los Angeles, protesters are blocking the driveway for ICE vans, according to the Twitter account “LA Against ICE," and have been doing so for at least two days.

There are similar protests happening in Washington state, Utah, Chicago and other locations, according to reports.