Lawmakers approve creation of new office to support immigrants and refugees

Office of Immigrant and Refugee Advancement will advocate for Oregon’s newest residents, seek to connect people to resources and programs helping to reduce social, economic and health disparities.

With strong bipartisan support in both chambers, Oregon lawmakers have approved the creation of a new government office underneath Gov. Kate Brown that will advocate on behalf of immigrants and refugees, as well as implement strategies to aid in their advancement.

In a 50-6 vote Wednesday, the Oregon House of Representatives cleared Senate Bill 778 to head to the desk of Gov. Brown for her signature to establish the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Advancement. The new office will receive $1.3 million in funding to get off the ground with a director and three full-time positions. The Senate approved the bill 28-1 last week.

Sen. Kayse Jama sponsored the bill.

The purpose of the office will be to advocate for and partner with statewide immigrant and refugee programs and organizations to offer long-term support and services to meet the needs of these populations within the state.

The office will be tasked with collecting data on immigrants and refugees who are new to Oregon in an attempt to better understand their needs and to track progress in reducing social, economic and health disparities. It will also track legislation impacting both populations and advocate for federal resources to support local programs and groups, as well as monitor investments made by the state to ensure resources are being allocated effectively.

The office is directed to partner with any and all state agencies and community-based organizations working within the realm of refugee and immigrant advancement. Although the office won’t directly provide services, it will help coordinate strategies, convene stakeholders and provide policy support for communities across the state.

According to the bill’s chief sponsor, Sen. Kayse Jama, D-SE Portland/North Clackamas, Oregon has opened its doors to more than 67,000 refugees since 1975. Currently, one in 10 Oregonians is an immigrant or refugee.

Read more at OPB, posted on 6-23-21

Date: 2021-06-25 07:40

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