Tending to our hearts and taking action
We were glad to be online with so many of you earlier today to talk about our work together in the midst of COVID-19, including policies that Oregon decision-makers can implement to support immigrant Oregonians. We are thankful to be part of a generous community that responds even in the midst of our own adjusting to this reality (So many of you responded in less than 24 hrs that we had to get creative on zoom to make sure we could accommodate everyone). In this moment in time, as we live in the tension of seeing how interconnected we all are and being unable to touch, we must ensure that our systems and governments leave no one behind. Join us in taking concrete steps towards this.
Tending to our hearts
During our call, we shared a poem by Dori Midnight titled “Wash Your Hands.” We invite you to read it as we did earlier today.
Sign-on letter to ICE Portland Field Office Directo
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is still not doing enough to put the health of all community members first in its response to covid-19. All are invited to sign on to a letter drafted by immigrant rights organizations in Oregon asking the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Portland Field Office Director to stop ICE operations, release all people from the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, and Close the Portland Immigration Court.
Supporting Oregon legislation championing immigrant communities
Additionally, the Oregon legislature is currently developing a policy approach for COVID-19. We want to ensure that, as they consider legislation to provide needed relief to Oregonians, they champion our immigrant communities. Our partners serving and organizing immigrant communities have specifically called for the adoption of the Oregon Worker Relief Fund (OWRF), a wage replacement program for communities that are unable to access Unemployment Insurance due to their status. We expect legislation to move quickly (likely by the end of the month). Here is how we can support:
If you are clergy:
Please sign on to our clergy letter in support of the Oregon Worker Relief Fund (OWRF). It will take about 5 minutes for you to read it and sign on. We will send this letter to legislators at a strategic time. If you have an extra 5 minutes after signing on, please also use the information below to reach out to your legislator in support of (OWRF).
If you are one of our awesome leaders but do not have a clergy title:
Please encourage the clergy person at your faith community to sign. Be mindful that clergy are holding a lot as they accompany our communities in this time. Be kind. Be thankful. Be open to a no.
Call your legislators and invite your community to do the same. A call to all legislators is important at the moment but it is especially crucial if your state legislator is part of the Joint committee for coronavirus response (Central Oregon, parts of Portland, Beaverton, Salem, and other communities are included). If you don’t know who your legislators are, you can find them inputting your address here.
Call or reach them via email and use the following points crafted by our friends at CAUSA and edited by us. Messages are more powerful when customized, so don’t be afraid to edit:
Dear (name of legislator)
I am_____ and live in _________. I belong to ___(faith community)_. I am contacting you in support of the Oregon Worker Relief Fund (OWRF). This pandemic has brought to light a truth that my faith has taught all along: Our lives, health, and wellbeing are interconnected. It’s reminding us that we must care for all we encounter in our path because, in doing so, we are caring for ourselves. We write to you today to ask that, as you consider legislation to provide needed relief to Oregonians, you champion our immigrant communities.
As COVID-19 continues to ravage low-wage employees, we continue to see a high level of unemployment in the communities we serve, which has had immediate impacts, such as housing and food insecurity. Many contributing immigrant Oregonians have lost their jobs--and thus their wages--because of the pandemic and have no access to any wage replacement program such as Oregon's Unemployment Insurance program. We understand that the committee is currently developing a policy approach for COVID-19. We want to ensure that workers who are not eligible for Unemployment Insurance benefits are included. Some of these UI-ineligible workers are the backbone of the agricultural, restaurant, and lodging industries.
Oregon Worker Relief Fund Proposal Goals/ Request
1. Provide financial relief to Oregonians that cannot access public benefits: Many immigrant Oregonians fall under classifications that make them ineligible for Unemployment Insurance. The Oregon Worker Relief Fund would provide temporary financial support for those that are falling through the cracks during our current pandemic.
2. Allocate funds for Community-Based Organizations (CBO) to distribute: Immigrant Oregonians face difficulty accessing public benefits. They fear government interaction due to increased immigration enforcement and public charge rules. Non-profit organizations who have the community’s trust, with the support of the state and a lead non-profit entity, will create an equitable alternative system of financial relief as a temporary measure to combat COVID-19’s effect on our workforce.
I urge you to act during this global pandemic to ensure that ALL of Oregon’s workers can take care of themselves and their families. Adopt the Oregon Worker Relief Fund.
We will share additional information, reflections and actions as they become available.