PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Federal officials Monday ordered protesters to end their round-the-clock occupation of property outside the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Portland, Oregon.
Law enforcement officers began distributing notices to vacate late Monday morning. The several hundred protesters have so far ignored the demand.
“We acknowledge the community’s concerns driving these demonstrations. While demonstrators have a lawful right to assemble and voice their concerns, blocking the building’s driveways or entrances is not permitted under federal law,” U.S. Attorney for Oregon Billy Williams said in a statement.
The group rallying under the moniker Occupy ICE PDX wants to abolish ICE and end the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy in which all unlawful border crossings are referred for prosecution.
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Occupy ICE PDX last week called for similar occupations throughout the country, and demonstrators have responded in places such as New York, Los Angeles and Detroit.
Earlier Monday, federal law enforcement officers entered the Portland’s ICE headquarters to secure government property ahead of the vacate notice.
The action taken at 3:30 a.m., when many protesters were in their tents, was a precautionary move to protect information and equipment, said Rob Sperling, spokesman for Federal Protective Service, which is responsible for protecting federal buildings.
The protesters did not try to thwart officers. “This morning’s entry was peaceful and smooth,” Sperling said.
Portland’s ICE headquarters has been the site of an occupation since June 17. The occupation grew in size early last week, and the building has been closed since Wednesday. There’s no indication that protesters have gone inside the facility, Sperling said.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has said police in this sanctuary city won’t help federal officers evict any protesters.
Carissa Cutrell, an ICE spokeswoman, said last week that people who had appointments scheduled at the office will be contacted by deportation officers to have their meetings rescheduled. The appointments will not be reported as missed check-ins.
Cutrell declined to say how many people work at the Portland office, or if they have been working from home since it was closed because of security concerns.