At Catholic Charities of Oregon, we are happy to partner with Lutheran Community Services Northwest, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, and our partners in Oregon’s Refugee Resettlement Collaborative to advance advocacy issues for immigrants and refugees in Oregon.
This partnership includes working together on the successful passage of HB 2508. Additionally, in March, Director of Refugee Services Matthew Westerbeck provided testimony during a public hearing in front of the Senate Committee on Human Services, Mental Health and Recovery on Senate Bill (SB) 718. The Bill appropriates moneys from General Fund to Department of Human Services to award grants to refugee resettlement agencies that provide specified services to refugees who would refund and expand the Extended Case Management (ECM) program.
Catholic Charities of Oregon also partners with local community-based organizations to help increase awareness of other crises that not only impact refugee communities in Oregon, but their families in their countries of origin, too. Due to the nature of the conflicts that caused many refugees to flee in the first place, their families are still waiting to be able to reunite with their family member(s) in the U.S.
One example of those awareness efforts is the multi-faith prayer service for the Zomi Community that Catholic Charities of Oregon and Zomi Catholic Community Portland (ZCCP) hosted in April. The Zomi community has suffered increased violence and oppression since the military junta in Myanmar staged a coup d’etat on February 1, 2021. Tragically, children and youth have been disproportionately attacked and killed. At the multi-faith prayer service, leaders from the Catholic, Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish, and other Christian denominations joined the Zomi community in Oregon and other refugee communities, as well as Catholic Charities of Oregon, state senators and local representatives, to pray for an end to the political unrest occurring daily in Myanmar, the country from which most of Oregon’s Zomi community have immigrated. Read the remarks delivered, as prepared by Catholic Charities Executive Director Deacon Rick Birkel, Ph.D.