Portland, OR – Officials from U.S. Customs and Immigration (ICE) had to shut down an office that provided services to immigrants because protesters have created “security concerns” by blocking the sidewalks and the facility’s entrances.
Now the protesters who shut down the facility have claimed they are helping those who needed the service of the ICE office by taking them to other locations, according to The Oregonian.
"We're the ones who shut the building down," Jacob Bureros, an organizer with Direct Action Alliance, a group that helped block the ICE office and cause the shutdown, told The Oregonian. “"It's not their fault they can't get to their appointment."
The protest that was supposed to support immigrants and express dissatisfaction with President Donald Trump’s “zero-tolerance policy” for those who cross the U.S. border illegally has actually made things more difficult for immigrants who are trying to follow the law.
Mary Ann Warner told The Oregonian she was helping to coordinate translators and rides for immigrants who actually needed to get to their meetings at the facility that protesters blocked.
She said people have been showing up for their appointments and can’t check in.
"My parents are immigrants, and the last thing I'd want them to experience would be missing check in," Warner said. "That's a terrifying place to be in."
Bureros said protesters have volunteered to provide rides home or to the Tacoma ICE office for those who have be inconvenienced by the tent city that has blocked the street in front of the Portland office.
He said their group has received “loads of donations” including cash, and they’re passing the contributions on to the immigrants who have showed up for their appointments as compensation for missing their check-in meetings, The Oregonian reported.
Officials were forced to shut down the ICE headquarters in Portland, and provided security to help employees get out of the building, on Tuesday after protesters blocked the entrance.
Members of Portland’s Occupy ICE group said they planned to keep the office building surrounded until ICE permanently closed the office, a move that would cause considerable problems and inconvenience for immigrants who lived in the area and needed to do business there.
Portland police have stayed away from the rapidly-growing encampment beside the ICE building that has blocked the city bike path in that area because Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has declared the protest to be the federal government’s problem, KOIN reported.
Nearby businesses and people who live in the neighborhood have had to hire their own security because protesters have been preventing residents from getting to and from their homes.
"The other day one of the protesters jumped out in front of my car as I was going home blocking most of the street,” one neighbor said.
Items were stolen from the outside of a business on Thursday night, and were found in the Occupy ICE encampment on Friday, according to KOIN.
A protester scaled the ICE building itself and removed the American flag from a pole.
One woman complained to KOIN that protesters were the ones being harassed.
"Someone just came by and sprayed us with poop," one protester said. "That's just mean."
But protesters will have to figure out how to handle problems like that on their own because local law enforcement has been ordered to stand down.
"I want to be very clear 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 that has not fully lived American values of inclusion and is also an agency where the former head suggested that people who lead cities that are sanctuary cities like this one should be arrested," the Portland mayor tweeted.