Catholic Charities of Oregon and several refugee support and advocacy organizations serving the state issued a statement Jan. 25 in anticipation of President Donald Trump’s executive orders on refugee resettlement.
“Oregon has a long history of welcoming refugee families dating as far back as 1948, when Congress passed the Displaced Persons Act,” read the statement from Catholic Charities, Lutheran Community Services Northwest, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, and Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization. “Our support for refugee families and the variety of assistance and resettlement programs have endured and evolved over decades,” they said, pledging to remain committed to refugees currently living in Oregon as well as those scheduled to arrive.
Trump signed an executive order on immigration that bars all refugees for at least 120 days. It halts immigration entirely for 90 days from a list of Muslim-majority countries.
The organizations said in their statement that refugee assistance and resettlement programs in Oregon “have always been bigger than the federal government.” They said their work is made possible by private funding, volunteers and partnerships with other agencies, faith communities, and “the increasing support in donations from people of goodwill in communities across our state.”
They added that while efforts to resettle and support refugee families have always depended on the local community and not the federal government, community support now is especially critical.
The organizations said they remain optimistic that their work will continue to be strong and that necessary adjustments will be made in light of the new federal policies. The new policies will not “thwart our ability to serve and support the refugee population in Oregon for more decades to come,” the organizations said prior to the signing of the executive order.
They expect Oregon to continue to play an important role in refugee resettlement and are committed to building a stronger network of support for families, “many of them having fled their countries in fear of their lives.”
“They are men, women and children who have been touched by the loving welcome of the American people who embrace refugee families to help them flourish,” read the statement.
“Together, standing firm in unity, we recognize our strength and invigorate our purpose to be a light of hope to those in need, regardless of their background, their faith, or place of origin in the world.”