A union representing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents accused the Portland mayor of violating the Constitution in his enforcement of a policy that ordered police not to respond to calls for help amid recent, often violent protests.
A cease-and-desist letter (pdf) sent on July 30, from the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council to Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler blamed the policy for creating a “zone of terror and lawlessness.” It comes after Portland police in Oregon refused to respond to at least two 911 emergency calls from ICE employees who felt threatened from the protests outside their office, according to reports.
“As you are aware, the 14th Amendment forbids the government from denying any person or persons equal protection of the laws,” the letter states. “Your policy of not providing police services to employees of ICE creates a class of people based upon their source of income.”
In June, an Occupy ICE movement began in Portland to protest the family separation of illegal immigrants under a zero tolerance policy. The often violent protesters, composed of Marxists, socialists, Antifa, anarchists, and the homeless, set up a tent outside ICE’s headquarters. At one point they targeted Happy Camper, a food cart right across the street from ICE, which is a tax exempt 501(c)(3) organization set up to assist homeless people.
Owners of the food cart claimed, with accompanying evidence of cellphone footage, that they were harassed and threatened with violence by people from Occupy ICE. They said their customers were also harassed and that business was down about 80 percent because of it.
In the letter, the union called for the mayor to “immediately” end the policy of not responding to calls, accusing him of injecting partisan politics into the mix. They also requested a meeting with Wheeler for further discussion on the issue.
“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,” the letter said.
President Donald Trump echoed some of the sentiments outlined in the letter on Twitter, calling for ICE employees to be treated with more dignity, in what appears to be an unrelated comment.
“The Democrats want Open Borders,” Trump wrote on July 31. “I want Maximum Border Security and respect for ICE and our great Law Enforcement Professionals!”
After several weeks of protests, Occupy ICE protesters were forced to close camp on July 25. Officials said the camp was left in a disgusting and poorly maintained state. The trash was so abundant that the scope of the cleanup efforts led to intense planning by city officials.
“There’s fire hazards in there. There’s bio-medical hazards in there, and because of those sorts of complaints we knew we had to get ahead of it before it spiraled out of control,” Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw said at the time.
The union and the mayor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.