Refugee Services

Since the early 1940s, Catholic Charities’ Refugee Services Program has helped more than 10,000 refugees make Oregon their new home. More recently, in the past three years, we have resettled over 1,200 refugees. Catholic Charities is one of only three refugee resettlement agencies in Oregon that provide these resettlement services.

Through its Refugee Services Program, Catholic Charities assists individuals and families that must leave their homelands due to the fear of persecution based on reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, and/or political opinion. The services offered through these programs address a wide array of needs, ranging from initial resettlement to long-term intensive case management. We promote successful integration into American society while maintaining the respect and dignity of each individual and their unique culture and traditions.

Newly arriving refugees are greeted at the airport and from that moment of arrival, program staff work to meet essential needs, including safe and affordable housing, furnishings, food, and clothing in order to get them started on the path to rebuilding their lives in a new place. Case managers also coordinate referrals to other service providers, community organizations, and schools. In addition to physical items and support, case managers provide psychosocial care as individuals work through the cultural transition to the United States, process their often traumatic life experiences, and prepare for the new future here. Our role is to 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.

Refugees have endured great hardship — sometimes for many years — before they arrive in the U.S. Often they are fleeing war and persecution meaning they were forced to leave a full life behind, including family, friends, and most of their possessions. Meeting their basic needs and providing initial services lays the foundation for refugees to achieve self-sufficiency once again.

Refugee Services depends on volunteers and donations to make our program a success. Volunteers are a bridge to the community and a connection that lasts far beyond the resettlement service period. Donations allow us to offer food, clothing, and other furnishings for families’ new homes.

Who We Serve

Refugee Services assists individuals and families that have been identified by the UNHCR and the US Government as receiving refugee status. We specifically help fulfill contracts with the federal government (Reception & Placement) and the state (Refugee Family Services & Connections) to help our clients on the path to self-sufficiency. Our refugee clients come to us through United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) which is the voluntary agency that facilitates the resettlement efforts and assigns cases to our program. Through this program we serve refugees, asylees, and SIV holders.

  • Refugees apply for and receive refugee status in their host country and come to the US through IOM (International Office of Migration).
  • Asylees receive the same benefits as refugees but they travel to the US on their own and then apply for and receive their asylum status here in the US.
  • SIV (Special Immigrant Visa) holders come to the US either through International Organization for Migration (IOM) or on their own and receive the same benefits as refugees. SIVs are only available to persons who worked with the US Armed Forces as a translator or interpreter in Iraq or Afghanistan.

We also serve clients through TVAP (Trafficking Victim Assistance Program), which supports foreign born victims of severe forms of trafficking, including derivative family members and minor children of victims.

How can you refer a client to us?

Click here to email the refugee services team. Include the following information:

  • Client contact information (name, phone number, e-mail)
  • Client’s preferred language for contact
  • Refugee Case Number, if applicable
  • Current status (refugee, SIV, asylee, victim of trafficking, etc.)
  • How long client has been in the US
  • Which program they are seeking services from (R&P, RCSP, PC, TVAP)
  • Learn more about refugees and the refugee resettlement process by exploring the FAQs below.

For more information on referring people to us, please see our additional referral information.

Our Services

For Refugees, Asylees, or SIV holders:

  • Provide resettlement services including but not limited to: airport welcome, case management, housing and furnishing support, food assistance, cultural orientation, and applications/referrals to relevant services through DHS, IRCO, and MCC.
  • For female refugees we also have the Preferred Communities Program, which provides culturally sensitive counseling, peer- support, and case management to refugee women who have experienced trauma.

For loved ones of refugees abroad:

  • Support in helping refugees/asylees complete AOR (Affidavit of Relationship) paperwork to help their close relatives (spouse, parent, or unmarried child) on the path to coming to the US as refugees.
  • Investigation into current cases abroad (limited information available).

For Victims of Trafficking:

  • Provide services including but not limited to: needs assessment, service coordination, financial support, referrals to legal services, and assistance with housing, food, clothing, health care, safety planning, transportation, and other public benefits.

Volunteer

Refugee Services depends on volunteers and donations to make our program a success. Volunteers are a bridge to the community and a connection that lasts far beyond the resettlement service period. Donations allow us to offer food, clothing, and furnishings for their new home.

Interested in volunteering with Refugee Services? Check out our current volunteer opportunities, and learn more about becoming a Cultural Navigator.

Support the program by following the donate box below.

Catholic Charities Welcomes Refugees

Referral information

Catholic Charities provides services to individuals and families with qualifying statuses through programs funded through federal and state governments. Below is the list of programs currently provided and which populations are eligible to receive services:

  • Reception & Placement Services (R&P) (only Refugee and SIV statuses are eligible for this program)
  • Refugee Family Services and Connections (RFSC)
  • Match Grant Program (MG)
  • Preferred Communities (PC)
  • Trafficking Victim Services (TVAP)

See our Referral Information page to learn more.

Refugee Services

In-Kind Needs

The Refugee Services team relies on donations from volunteers and partners to furnish houses and apartments for arriving individuals and families. These donations can include lightly used furniture as well as new household items. For questions about in-kind donations or to schedule a time to drop off items, please contact us.

Furniture

  • Dining room table & chairs
  • Couches (not hide a beds)
  • Lamps
  • Coffee tables
  • End tables
  • Dressers

Miscellaneous

  • Computers (laptops/desktops in good working condition)
  • Smart phones (in good condition)
  • Headphones (new or lightly used)
  • TVs (flat screens only. No large tube TVs)
  • Bikes and bike locks (adult & youth)
  • Bus passes (adult & youth)

Kits (we prefer to receive kits versus individual items. All items must be new)

  • WELCOME KITS - teapot & tea, Oregon calendar, map of Portland, blanket, welcome doormat, notebook, pens, pencils, chocolate, umbrella, soccer, basketball
  • PERSONAL CARE KITS - toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, soap, razors, shaving cream, nail clippers/files, tweezers, feminine hygiene products, toilet paper
  • KITCHEN KITS - dishes, cups, glasses, mugs, silverware, silverware tray, dish towels, potholders, paper towels, hand soap, trash bags, mixing bowls, Tupperware/food storage containers, frying pans, pots with lids, baking dishes, cutting board, kitchen knives, spatula, can opener
  • BEDDING KITS - sheets, pillows, comforters (for twin- and full-size beds)
  • BATHROOM KITS - bath towels, hand towels, washcloths, bathmat, hand soap, toilet paper, small waste basket, shower rod, shower curtain
  • CLEANING KITS - mop & bucket, broom & dustpan, sponges, toilet brush, dish soap, laundry detergent, light bulbs, tissues, paper towels
Articles

Migration Services Featured in "'A blanket of fear’: How deportations affect children"

Posted By | Staff
A recent article in the Catholic Sentinel discusses the destructive effects of deportations and detentions on children and families. The Catholic Sentinel’s Katie Scott spoke to Pope Francis Center Director Vanessa Briseño, Intercultural Counseling Center Manager Lucrecia Suarez, Immigration Legal Services Director John Herrera, and retired immigration judge Michael Bennett. Read the article on their…

Resources for Those at Risk of Detention or Removal

Posted By | Staff
The Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC) has developed two resources that may be useful in the event of a detention or removal attempt: “Know Your Rights” cards in several languages and the rapid response toolkit. If you need further assistance, please contact our Immigration Legal Defense team at (503) 542-2855 or by emailing immigrationemail@ccoregon.org.

Refugee Resettlement Services Featured in "Oregon may help offset federal cuts to refugee support"

Posted By | Staff
The Catholic Sentinel’s Katie Scott reports on the importance of HB2508 for Catholic Charities and other resettlement agencies as well as for the refugee community in Oregon. Read the full article at the Catholic Sentinel.
Catholic Charities agency staff welcomes refugees at Portland International Airport

The Immigrant Story - Dr. Baher Butti

Posted By | Barb Anderman
Catholic Charities of Oregon employee Dr. Baher Butti’s bloodline of activism runs strong.
Dr. Baher Butti