Portland, OR – When the Portland mayor refused to allow the Portland police to assist federal agents with protecting the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) offices, he also ordered them not to provide police services to ICE employees when they were off duty.
Now an attorney representing the union for those ICE employees has filed a “cease and desist” order against Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler on the grounds his stand-down order was a violation of the 14th Amendment, which says no state may deprive its citizens of equal protection by the law, KOIN reported.
“Your policy has created a zone of terror and lawlessness. We ask that you end your policy of not responding to calls for police services from ICE employees immediately,” read the letter from attorney Sean Riddell to the Portland Mayor on behalf of the ICE employees’ union.
“Our membership has been the subjected to threats of physical violence and harassment since you announced your policy,” the letter said.
Protesters set up a tent city along the sidewalk in front of the ICE service center in Portland for five weeks, during which time Wheeler refused to allow the Portland police to assist ICE employees in any way, the letter claims.
When ICE employees had trouble leaving work because protesters were surrounding their cars, or in one case, when protesters followed an employee and harassed him at his home, Portland police refused to respond on orders of the mayor, according to FOX & Friends.
The Portland mayor took an early hard stance against helping ICE early in the protest cycle, and at one point demonstrators succeeded in shutting down the ICE offices for an entire week, KOIN reported.
“I want to be very clear I do not want the @PortlandPolice to be engaged or sucked into a conflict, particularly from a federal agency that I believe is on the wrong track,” Wheeler tweeted on June 20.
On Monday, Riddell sent the “cease and desist” letter to the mayor on behalf of the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council that said denying ICE employees basic police services because of where they work is a violation of the U.S. Constitution.
"Mister Wheeler cannot create a subset of citizens that do not rate equal protection or government assets or government facilities based on their source of income," Riddell said.
The letter accused the mayor of targeting a specific group of people in violation of the 14th Amendment.
“As you are aware, the 14th Amendment forbids the government from denying any person or persons equal protection of the laws. Your policy of not providing police services to employees of ICE creates a class of people based upon their source of income,” Riddell spelled out the problem clearing in his July 30 letter to the mayor of Portland.
“You have failed to articulate why these people deserve to be the target of your ire and, you have failed to articulate the legitimate government interest protected or supported by your targeting of hardworking citizens,” the “cease and desist” letter read.
The letter, which threatened federal litigation should the Portland Police Department continue to ignore calls from ICE employees, broke down the dispute into simple language.
“We understand that you have a difference of opinion with the current President of the United States, and some of his policies, but we fail to see why targeting the employees of ICE and leaving them vulnerable to violence, harassment and even death furthers a legitimate government interest,” Riddell wrote.
From the beginning, Wheeler called the tent city that grew up around the ICE offices a “peaceful protest” although that was the farthest thing from the truth.
Immigrants with appointments at the Portland ICE offices weren’t able to get into the building to check in, and employees trying to leave the building weren’t able to get out.
The protest that was ostensibly to support immigrants and express dissatisfaction with President Donald Trump’s “zero-tolerance policy” for those who cross the U.S. border illegally, but it actually made things more difficult for immigrants who were trying to follow the law.
Moreover, the federal officers who were deployed to protect the ICE office in Portland from the #AbolishICEPDX protesters were subjected to racist slurs and threats on a daily basis.
“They have yelled continuously that they hope we die, they hope our families die,” one officer wrote in an email to his supervisor, according to the Oregonian.