ICE agents claim Oregon mayor ‘created a zone of terror and lawlessness’ with protest order
The union representing thousands of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents is reportedly accusing the mayor of Portland, Ore., of violating the Constitution for allowing protests outside an ICE center.
The Washington Times reported that the National ICE Council, which represents around 7,600 ICE agents and staff members, said in a letter to the city on Monday that Mayor Ted Wheeler (D) had “turned the lives of our employees over to an angry mob.”
“The mayor stated publicly that he supported the protests, which were supposed to be about protecting immigrant families. But what about the moms and dads that we had working in that building? What about their kids?” Chris Crane, the union’s president, told the Times. “These are questions that we’ll be expecting the mayor and city of Portland to be answering in the days to come.”
The letter, which also accuses Portland authorities of creating “a zone of terror and lawlessness,” demands the city take steps to support ICE personnel in the building or risk a lawsuit.
“For now, a handful of ICE officers and staff are taking this mayor and city on all by ourselves,” Crane said. “We’ll fight alone for the rule of law and safety of our employees nationwide if that’s what it takes, but someone on our side would be a welcome change moving forward.”
A spokesperson for Wheeler’s office told the Times that the letter is being reviewed.
ICE reopened the agency’s Portland office early this month after shuttering it in June over the protests, during which thousands of demonstrators surrounded the building and refused to let agents leave the building.
The protest, part of the larger “Occupy ICE” movement, was created in response to President Trump’s zero tolerance immigration policy, which forced the separation of thousands of families. Trump halted the separations last month.
ICE officials told Willamette Week that staff members at the office called police on at least two occasions in June to report protesters blocking entrances and exits, only to have their 911 calls go unanswered.
“This area became like a Wild West,” one local agent told the local news site.
The unanswered calls came after Wheeler directed Portland police not to intervene on the first day of the protests.
“I want to be very clear that I do not want the Portland police to be engaged or sucked into a conflict, particularly from a federal agency that I believe is on the wrong track. If they are looking for a bailout from this mayor, they are looking in the wrong place,” Wheeler said at the time.
The mayor later called on protesters to remove makeshift barricades, and said that he supported the aims of their demonstrations but not their methods.
–Updated at 8:05 a.m.