Protesters block ICE from detaining two Mexican immigrants for 12 hours

Protesters block ICE from detaining two Mexican immigrants for 12 hours
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Federal agents on Wednesday night reportedly deployed tear gas and less-lethal munitions at a crowd of protesters in Bend, Ore., who had surrounded Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) vehicles after two Mexican immigrants were detained.

Approximately 300 people in the central Oregon city gathered around two buses around 1 p.m. on Wednesday and remained there until nightfall to protest immigration officials' actions, according to The Bend Bulletin. Photos and videos posted on social media showed a crowd of people standing in front of the vehicles as Border Patrol agents stood off to the side. 

The protesters dispersed at about 11 p.m. after federal officers deployed tear gas and other munitions, giving the agency a chance to escort the individuals off the bus and to another vehicle, The Washington Post reported

Acting Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Ken Cuccinelli said in a statement that the activity in Bend was a part of ICE's "mission to arrest criminal aliens presenting a danger to public safety and take them off the street."

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"The two individuals arrested each had a history of violent criminal behavior," Cuccinelli said. "While ICE respects the rights of people to voice their opinion peacefully, that does not include illegally interfering with their federal law enforcement duties."

Homeland Security nor ICE released any information identifying the men taken into custody. However, activists identified the individuals as longtime residents Josué Arturo Cruz Sanchez and Marco Zeferino, according to the Post. 

ICE declined to confirm the individuals' identities when contacted by The Hill, citing pending litigation. 

 

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The Bend Police Department released a statement late Wednesday stressing that it was not associated with ICE's actions in the city. The police later added that "it appears federal agents have left the area."

"The attendees of the First Amendment event appear to have dispersed peacefully," police said. 

Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel said in a series of tweets that he was "disgusted" with the actions of the federal government. He also noted that he, Gov. Kate BrownKate BrownThousands expected to turn out in Portland for Proud Boys rally Four states report record number of new COVID-19 cases California fire becomes largest in state history MORE (D) and other local officials were unsuccessful in their attempts to broker a resolution with the Department of Homeland Security. 

"Federal troops stormed the buses in full tactical gear. Unnecessary and outrageous. Never did I think I would see this in my country," he said in a tweet, adding "#VOTE." 

Activists said federal officers never presented a warrant or documentation before proceeding with an arrest. 

“The only resolution that we’re accepting is that they show us documentation that the men were allowed to be detained, and there’s nothing we can do legally, or the [American Civil Liberties Union] files an emergency motion that gets them off,” Luke Richter, founder of Central Oregon Peacekeepers, told The Bulletin. 

The ACLU's Oregon chapter announced late Wednesday that Innovation Law Lab, a nonprofit group focused on criminal justice, filed an emergency motion to block Homeland Security from transporting the men outside of the District Court of Oregon's jurisdiction.

“It is a fundamental violation of their legal rights, and an unspeakable breach of community trust,” Erin Carter, an attorney with Bend Immigration Group and volunteer with Innovation Law Lab, said in a statement.

The actions of ICE amid President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says voters should choose who nominates Supreme Court justice Trump, Biden will not shake hands at first debate due to COVID-19 Pelosi: Trump Supreme Court pick 'threatens' Affordable Care Act MORE's time in the White House has given rise to similar protests in other U.S. cities. In July 2019, a group of neighbors and activists gathered outside the home of a Tennessee man to thwart ICE officers from detaining him. 

Updated at 9:29 a.m.