Following two days of raucous heckling and disruption from Portland demonstrators, a regional office for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has temporarily shuttered, the agency announced Wednesday.
“ICE operations at this location have been temporarily halted due to security concerns,” a statement from an ICE spokesman said. “Normal operations will resume once security concerns have been addressed.”
Appointments at the facility have been canceled.
The announcement comes amid a growing protest calling itself Occupy ICE PDX. The impromptu demonstration began Sunday evening, following a vigil to protest hardline federal immigration policies that separate immigrant parents from their children.
It’s continued to grow ever since. On Monday, protesters began blocking vehicles attempting to enter and leave the facility, an unassuming structure in Southwest Portland that bears no outward signs it’s an ICE facility.
Demonstrators have also been camping outside the building and festooning the area with signs with slogans like “Kick out ICE” and “Will trade racists for refugees.” Two tents on Monday evening had increased to six by Tuesday morning. Twenty-four hours later, nearly 30 tents had been erected, with at least seven set up on a driveway to the building’s property.
The encampment — largely grassroots, but supported by a coalition of local groups — also has a medical tent and a kitchen area overflowing with donated water and food. A handful of tents on Wednesday sat near signs that read, “Family Camp. This space is for childcare and parents to rest. Please be mindful when near this space.”
News of the facility’s closure isn’t much of a surprise. On Tuesday evening, police with the Department of Homeland Security stood guard as employees of the facility left for the day, many carrying belongings from the office.
But the agency didn’t formally announce its decision until near noon the following day. That created confusion Wednesday morning, when people who had appointments with ICE showed up, only to find the doors locked and the property occupied by tents.
“Appointments scheduled for Wednesday at the ICE office on Macadam Avenue have been canceled,” the ICE statement read. “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.”