UPDATE (3:49 p.m. PT Sunday, June 24, 2018) — What started as a two-tent campout on the trolley tracks outside the Immigration and Customs Enforcement building in Portland has turned into a small village with a growing political presence.
So many people were expected for a protest at the occupation site Sunday that organizers moved it downtown instead. Speakers at the rally called for both the abolition of ICE and for immigration reform.
Several hundred people gathered outside of Portland’s City Hall Sunday afternoon calling for the abolition of ICE and immigration reform.
Protesters carried signs saying: “What would Jesus do?”; “Families Belong Together”; and “Super, Callous, Fragile, Racist, Sexist, Nazi, POTUS.”
Democratic Oregon state Rep. Diego Hernandez questioned the executive order President Donald Trump signed last week to end family separations.
“So is the executive order a solution?” he asked the crowd. “No! Hell No! Children and families are still in detention prisons. It did nothing to reunite children, who are already separated and it gives the attorney general a path to detain them indefinitely.”
Trump signed an executive order Wednesday calling for an end of his administration’s family separation policy.
Questioning the stereotypes that some people associate with undocumented immigrants, Democratic Oregon state Sen. Michael Dembrow engaged in a rhetorical Q&A session with the crowd.
“Is it true that people come to this country just so that they can freeload off of our system? NO! Are they coming here to sponge off of our health care system? NO! Immigrants are doing the work that we need to be done.”
Saturday afternoon, hammers and garbled megaphone speeches provided the soundtrack as the protest organizers constructed a ramshackle fence around their more than 50-tent encampment at ICE’s Southwest Portland offices.
Demonstrators have occupied the space surrounding the ICE facility for nearly a week in protest of the Trump administration’s hardline immigration policy that has led to family separations at the southern U.S. border.
So far, police presence at the protest, dubbed Occupy ICE PDX, has been minimal. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has said he doesn’t want Portland Police getting involved.
Protesters say they have no plans of leaving, but there is some fear about how long law enforcement will continue its hands-off approach.
“I think the optics of trying to shut us down the day after a massive rally is happening is going to be very bad for [the Department of Homeland Security],” said Jordan Sheldon, a spokesperson for the camp. “But we’ll see what happens.”
Protesters’ top priority, they say, is shutting down the ICE operation in Portland.
The movement has caught national attention as additional “Occupy ICE” protests have popped up across the country.