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Refugee Services Spotlight: Looking forward to helping refugee families reunite and rebuild their lives in 2021

Posted by | Catholic Charities of Oregon

Today we congratulate President Biden and welcome him to his first day in office. At Catholic Charities of Oregon, we look forward to what a Biden Administration will mean for our programs—especially our Refugee Services Program.

Today we congratulate President Biden and welcome him to his first day in office. At Catholic Charities of Oregon, we look forward to what a Biden Administration will mean for our programs—especially our Refugee Services Program.

Catholic Charities of Oregon is committed to helping refugees rebuild their lives in their new homes. This commitment stems from a core Catholic teaching that every human being is created in the image of God and is, therefore, entitled to human dignity and respect. As the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops states, “The Catholic Church views assisting those in need as a fundamental Christian duty that is derived directly from the life of mercy of Christ, who himself was an immigrant and a child of refugees. We as Christians are called to welcome our new neighbors with the same love and compassion we would want ourselves to be shown.”

Catholic Charities is one of three resettlement agencies in Oregon, and our Refugee Services Program has assisted refugees since the early 1940s, helping more than 10,000 people who were forced to leave their homelands due to the fear of persecution, to make Oregon their new home.

We provide refugees with critical, in-depth services and resources to help them navigate health, education, housing, public safety, financial systems, and so much more:
  • Newly arriving refugees are greeted at the airport and settled into their new homes. Soon thereafter, they partner with our case management staff to work toward establishing themselves in their new community.
  • Case managers help refugees navigate critical systems, including health care, school, social services, and other resources. They also coordinate referrals to other service providers and community organizations.
  • Case managers also provide psycho-social care to help clients navigate new cultural norms in the United States, process traumatic life experiences, and prepare for their new futures in Oregon.
  • We ensure that refugees are properly resettled and connected to necessary services in Oregon, including health care, job training, English language instruction, and other public benefits. In fact, our refugee-specific Employment Services program ensures that over 80 percent of the families we welcome are employed within the first six months of their arrival.
Federal policy changes stunted progress for Catholic Charities and our refugee brothers and sisters

These last four years, however, our Refugee Services Program suffered drastic cuts due to the Trump Administration’s focus on shutting down America’s participation in resettling refugees. Hundreds of families who were fully interviewed and screened by the United States government and ready for resettlement instead were denied the ability to reunite with family members in Portland. In 2016, for example, Catholic Charities welcomed nearly 600 refugees to Portland. In 2020, we welcomed only 63.

Hope for the future of our local, worldwide community

As we look ahead to the next four years, we are excited to restore our history of welcoming refugees and truly helping the world’s most vulnerable rebuild their lives. President Biden has pledged to set the annual refugee admissions cap at 125,000—up from the Trump Administration’s cap of 15,000 in 2020, which was the lowest since 1980—and to return the United States to full participation and commitment to resettling refugees. From what we have seen taking shape, this Administration is already thoughtfully analyzing how much work and investment it will take to rebuild the infrastructure of federally-contracted resettlement agencies across the country. In the meantime, we are busy ramping up our work in the Refugee Services Program as we prepare to welcome more refugees this year, and in the years to come.

We are grateful and proud of our partnerships with Lutheran Community Services Northwest, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO), and Unite Oregon and the work we accomplished together to pass the 2019 Welcoming Refugees Bill. We are also proud that funding for this legislation was included in the Governor’s recommended budget.

We look forward to continuing to work with these organizations—and all our other partners and stakeholders who make this work possible—so that Oregon continues to be a welcoming state for a group of people who bring immense contributions to the economy, diversity, and social fabric of our state.

Our Refugee Services program depends on volunteers and donations to make this program a success. To learn, donate, and get involved please visit our Refugee Services webpage, call us at (971) 222-1883, or send an email to refugee@ccoregon.org.

Learn more about our
Refugee Services

Catholic Charities provides refugee resettlement and case management services to individuals and families who seek to make Oregon their new home.
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