UPDATE (11:15 a.m. PT) — Officers from the Federal Protective Service have started notifying protesters outside the ICE offices in Portland that they must leave.
U.S. Attorney for Oregon Billy Williams said they’re working to reopen the building because it serves critical functions requiring public and employee access.
He said demonstrators have a lawful right to assemble and voice their concerns, but blocking the building’s entrances is not permitted under federal law.
Williams says people who continue to obstruct the entrance will be subject to arrest and prosecution.
A team of federal officials had already entered the Immigration and Customs Enforcement building in Portland early Monday morning. The building was vacated by ICE employees last week after days of being picketed by protesters.
Robert Sperling with the Federal Protective Service said the aim was to secure government property.
“Inside, there’s information and equipment and things like that that need to be secured,” he said. “And so we went inside to take care of that.”
Sperling didn’t want to speculate on whether the pre-dawn operation was a first step toward reopening the facility.
Danielle James, a spokeswoman for the protestors, hopes it’s not.
“These atrocities happening inside this building are so heartbreaking that I can’t see why someone would fight to keep a place like this open,” she said.
Hundreds of people rallied in downtown Portland Sunday calling for the abolition of ICE and an immigration policy overhaul.