Faith leaders urge lawmakers to pass refugee services bill


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As the Oregon legislative session deadline looms, faith communities in Oregon are raising awareness about a bill that would help integrate refugee families. 

House Bill 2508 comes at a time when the federal government has significantly cut back on funding and services for families who are seeking refuge in America. It’s currently up in the air in the Oregon Legislature.

The bill would provide nearly 2,000 refugees with “extended case management” over two years. It’s asking for $4.5 million in funding, which would replace what the federal government has taken away.

Faith leaders who oversee resettlement programs explained on Monday morning that families who receive “extended case management” are significantly less likely to depend on public assistance in the long term.

“They need assistance to find housing, finding health care and finding jobs to become independent in the American tradition,” Deacon Richard Birkel with Catholic Charities of Oregon said. “They need a lot of assistance. This bill will allow the resettlement agencies to support families for up to five years, which is brilliant, and a wonderful advantage.”

On Monday, refugees from all over the world shared their stories of how they had to flee violence and civil way in order to start a new life in America — and in Oregon. Each and every one of them said they wouldn’t be living and working independently today without the support and services they received upon arriving.

With only a few weeks left in the legislative session, faith leaders are urging Oregon lawmakers to move HB 2508 through.

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