PORTLAND, Oregon – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents on Monday accused the Portland mayor of violating the Constitution after emboldening “Abolish ICE” protesters by ordering the police to stand down and openly expressing support for their cause.
The accusations were outlined in a cease-and-desist letter sent to Mayor Ted Wheeler, saying he actively encouraged the protesters and their cause, while making sure Portland’s police wouldn’t crack down on them, thus creating “a zone of terror and lawlessness,” the Washington Times reported.
“When the mayor gave the order that police would not support ICE employees trapped in the facility, he turned the lives of our employees over to an angry mob,” Chris Crane, president of the National ICE Council, the organization that sent the cease-and-desist letter, told the newspaper.
The letter demands an apology from Wheeler and his assurance the city’s police will protect all citizens in need, including those working for a federal agency. Moreover, the letter advises the city could be sued if the mayor’s response is inadequate.
“The mayor stated publicly that he supported the protests, which were supposed to be about protecting immigrant families. But what about the moms and dads that we had working in that building? What about their kids?” Crane continued. “These are questions that we’ll be expecting the mayor and city of Portland to be answering in the days to come.”
Portland is among the main centers of the nationwide movement to abolish ICE, an idea that is increasingly being embraced by top mainstream Democrats in Congress, including U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
The city mayor’s support for the movement led to the occupation of a building being used by ICE, harassment of some ICE employees, and the creation of a camp on a city’s land.
“To all demonstrators: I urge you to keep up this effort,” Wheeler said in a press conference last week, according to The Oregonian, though advising protesters to vacate the ICE field office and the camp before the police disbands them.
He also said that the encampment, which has been branded as a biohazard by authorities, “deters from the main message” of getting rid of the immigration agency.
ICE agents say that some agency employees were denied assistance from the police to deal with protesters. Of these was a disabled Marine veteran who was confronted by an activist as he was picking up his daughter from a camp.
According to the Times, the veteran was interning at the ICE office on the first day of the demonstrations against the federal agency. After the demonstrators surrounded the ICE field office, he managed to escape. Nevertheless, his car was scratched and tires slashed. Moreover, it was reported that activists later followed him, yet his requests for help were ignored by police, who told him they were staying out of the situation.
“When it comes to basic police protection that should transcend politics,” another ICE employee said about the veteran’s experience, blaming the city’s mayor. “It comes down to life and death. He was irresponsible.”
The president of the National ICE Council urged the Trump administration to do more to defend the federal immigration agency.
“For now, a handful of ICE officers and staff are taking this mayor and city on all by ourselves,” he told the Times. “We’ll fight alone for the rule of law and safety of our employees nationwide if that’s what it takes, but someone on our side would be a welcome change moving forward.”