Our civic engagement program empowers immigrants and refugees throughout the Portland Tri-County region to develop a unified voice, advocate for their rights, and create an environment in which they are recognized and supported as valued community members. The program provides a pathway for immigrants and refugees to participate in democratic processes through skill-building workshops and hands-on projects that produce concrete improvements in their lives.
A Demographic Imperative
Our region is often described as one of the whitest in the United States. One look at the last U.S. Census figures, however, and it is clear that’s about to change. According to recent data, one out of every eight residents in the greater Portland Tri-County area is foreign-born. In some East Portland neighborhoods and in nearby cities such as Beaverton, immigrants represent one out of every three residents. Rapidly increasing diversity can stretch the social fabric of a community, particularly when newcomers are culturally or linguistically isolated, scapegoated during times of economic hardship, and excluded from public policy decisions that impact their lives. Restrictionist and protectionist policies serve to further isolate foreign-born residents.
At the heart of the Center’s approach to building a multi-racial, multicultural democracy is co-integration, that is: integrating immigrants/refugees into civic and institutional structures, and integrating mainstream organizations and communities into cultures of difference. We believe that breaking down these barriers will strengthen our society, creating a more equitable social, political, and economic environment for all.