Blanca Gaytan-Farfan is an immigrant from Michoacan, Mexico. Her family moved to Multnomah County when she was 5, looking for the same quality education and job opportunities many people want for their families, or as Blanca puts it, “a better style of life.” Her family faced challenges due to language barriers, and she and her brother had to help her parents navigate systems that did not have multilingual resources. Blanca’s story is one of many, each as diverse and important as the members of Portland’s immigrant and refugee communities. You can hear more of her story in her own words, as well as stories from other Portlanders, here.
As a sanctuary city, Portland has committed to working with regional, state, and federal partners to support all immigrant and refugee communities, regardless of peoples’ citizenship status. Civic Life’s Immigrant & Refugee Program works with our communities to provide new Portlanders with equitable services, resources, and policies. Civic Life and the New Portlanders Policy Commission (NPPC) recently released the Immigrant & Refugee Resource Brochure – the City’s first multilingual guide to help people coming to Portland.
In 1987, Oregon became the first sanctuary state in the US, providing legal protections regarding peoples’ citizenship status. And on Dec. 13, 2021, Oregon Legislature passed Senate Bill 5561, which includes an $18 million funding package to provide funding to the state’s resettlement agencies supporting Afghan immigrant and refugee families. This funding will go toward essentials like food and shelter, interpretation and education, and legal and case management services, and will position Oregon to take a larger role in national efforts to resettle immigrants.
Saturday, Dec. 18 was International Migrants Day. Each year, the United Nations uses this day to highlight the contributions made by migrants and to bring awareness to the challenges they face. According to UN data, more than 281 million people around the world were international migrants in 2020. Human migration happens all over the world, for all kinds of reasons, and touches all areas of our lives. As a worldwide community, we must treat all people with respect and do what we can to welcome and support our new community members.
Immigrants are an important part of Portland. They bring new culture and experiences to our community. They are business owners and essential workers in every type of industry. They are our neighbors, our friends, our family.
Visit Civic Life’s Immigration & Refugee Program website to find out more about how we provide support for Portland's immigrant communities.