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Friday, May 23, 2008

Oregon University Study Shows State Aid to Immigrants Deficient

According to a report released yesterday from the University of Oregon, the State of Oregon is behind other states in helping its growing immigrant population.

In a press release from the University of Oregon on the report, researchers found that “from 1990 to 2005, Oregon's Latino population -- now 10 percent of the state's total -- doubled in 21 counties. And more Russians and Ukrainians came to Oregon and Washington than to any other U.S. region. Oregon is, according a report by University of Oregon researchers, "a leading destination point for refugees," ranking 11th nationally.”

Given the statistics, the State of Oregon, according to researchers, has failed to do enough to “expand necessary social services, improve school curriculums, promote language programs, curb work-site abuse and create local and state task forces.”

Their recommendations:

Policymakers should consider extending statewide a variety of existing successful local-based programs that provide comprehensive, coordinated services for immigrants and refugees.

▪ Rural communities with growing immigrant populations should expand bilingual and multilingual services, encourage greater coordination of existing outreach programs and develop closer liaisons among existing institutions and immigrant populations.

▪ Culturally sensitive family-focused approaches should be incorporated into school curricula to enhance intervention efforts with Latino youth. Latinos account for 16.8 percent of Oregon students enrolled in public schools. At the current growth rate, the Oregon Department of Education projects that 28 percent of student enrollment will be Latino by 2020.

▪ Community task forces should be created that bring together key stakeholders to develop programs and policies that address the needs of immigrants and which create working relationships between newcomers and long-time residents. Such a model, the authors note, is the Portland Task Force on Immigrants and Refugees.

▪ A statewide task force of key stakeholders should be convened to develop an overall strategy aimed at helping immigrant workers to become more economically and socially integrated.

▪ State legislation should be pursued to strengthen protections for all workers in Oregon. Such legislation would address abuses arising from nonstandard employment relationships that allow employers to avoid responsibility and liability for their actions.

▪ Legislation that provides a pathway to citizenship or some form of legal status, and support for programs that increase access to English-language instruction, would do much to promote labor-market success and facilitate acculturation for immigrants. The report notes that an estimated 125,000 to 175,000 of foreign-born residents in Oregon currently are categorized as unauthorized.

Read the full report here (download: english/espanol)

UO's immigration report reviews historical record and offers recommendations, University of Oregon, Public and Media Relations


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