PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Undocumented immigrants and their supporters gathered in front of the Portland Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) building to share their stories on Monday morning.
The event was called Coming Out of the Shadows: Undocumented and Unashamed and started with a rally at 11 a.m. It lasted until around 12 p.m.
Government officials were also invited to the event to hear stories shared by immigrants.
Demonstrators spoke out against stepped up efforts to find and deal with undocumented immigrants in the U.S.
Those who attended the rally said they’re facing fears and coming together to protect their community.
Supporters of undocumented immigrants want them to know Oregon has their back and isn’t a sanctuary state by name only.
Juan Avalos, an undocumented immigrant who came to the U.S. 9 years ago, said, “It’s definitely worth taking a risk. I don’t think anyone else is going to come and take this risk. So I’m here to take the risk, and making big decisions is part of big changes.”
Avalos and others are spreading the message, “Don’t be afraid. Stop hiding.” The immigrant said he has nothing to prove he is from the U.S. He is a student at Portland Community College, as well as caretaker for his younger brothers.
“I came to realize that we can no longer live like this. We’re gonna live in the shadows for the rest of our lives? We have to do something about it. We have to encourage our community to come out of the shadows and prove that we’re not scared,” he said.
Luna Flores, 46, is another immigrant, but she has a visa. She fled violence in Mexico and has lived in Portland for 16 years. Flores is also the mother of a U.S. citizen.
“I’m feeling fear, worry,” Flores said. “Again, we are not criminals. They’re doing it wrong. They’re separating families. They’re detaining for no reason.”
ICE released the following statement on the event:
“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) fully respects the rights of all people to voice their opinion without interference. The Department of Homeland Security remains committed to sensible, effective immigration enforcement that focuses on its priorities including convicted criminals, gang members and other individuals who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security.”