Oregon governor Kate Brown and other elected officials praised local activists after they prevented a pair of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) buses carrying two detainees from leaving a hotel parking lot in Bend, Ore. on Wednesday.
“I am appalled by the callous actions of the Trump Administration yesterday in Bend to target immigrant communities and forcefully disperse a crowd of concerned community members and clergy who for hours held the line against injustice,” Brown wrote in a series of tweets Thursday.
But the governor and his allies were in fact attacking ICE for detaining and deporting two men who have “extensive” violent criminal records that include “multiple” arrests and convictions for violent crimes, National Review has learned.
“The individuals apprehended in the operation have extensive criminal records that include multiple arrests and or convictions for assault, harassment, and coercion,” Department of Homeland Security deputy assistant secretary Melika McKinnis said.
The two men were also previously deported and reentered the country on at least one occasion, according to McKinnis, who declined to provide further information regarding their crimes.
The detainees’ violent past didn’t stop Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel from lavishing praise on the coordinated effort, which included at least 250 activists, to prevent federal law enforcement from executing its constitutionally mandated duty.
“Federal troops stormed the buses in full tactical gear,” he wrote. “Unnecessary and outrageous. Never did I think I would see this in my country. I’ve never been so disgusted by my government and so proud of my community.”
The effort to interfere with law enforcement began after Luke Richter, founder of the ironically named Central Oregon Peacekeepers, heard that ICE was operating in Bend and decided to stand in front of the agencies’ buses while livestreaming on his phone.
“They are not welcome here,” Richter said of the federal agents.
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents in tactical gear arrived on the scene once a crowd of hundreds had formed and began to disperse the activists using pepper spray. Some twelve hours after the siege began, the agents then boarded the buses and escorted the detainees into different vehicles.
City spokeswoman Anne Aurand told local affiliate KTVZ that Bend is a “Welcoming City,” and noted that “the city does not enforce federal immigration laws or detain people based on immigration status” based on a statute passed by the city council.
McKinnis stressed that the two men were detained in accordance with the federal warrants issued for their arrest and not as part of a broader immigration enforcement sweep.
A Portland-based immigrant rights group filed an emergency motion in federal court Thursday to prevent ICE from leaving Bend with the detainees.