Businesses and organizations have
signed our Welcome Pledge
Dollars in state funding to preserve
the refugee resettlement ecosystem
HB 2508 and forward steps for Oregon: a model for other states
Oregon took bold steps to preserve its local refugee resettlement ecosystem when legislators approved nearly $2 million in temporary state funding in 2019. HB 2508 passed with overwhelming bipartisan support before Gov. Kate Brown signed it into law.
The bill ensures Oregon’s refugee resettlement agencies remain viable despite dwindling federal support tied to refugee admissions numbers. Refugee admissions to the U.S. have declined significantly in recent years from 85,000 in 2016 to 30,000 this year. The admissions cap for 2020 is a mere 18,000.
Roughly a third of the nation’s 325 resettlement offices have closed their doors since 2017 due to decreased federal funding.
We Hire Refugees helped pass HB 2508, a bill spearheaded by Catholic Charities of Oregon and Lutheran Community Services Northwest, arguing that refugees make our companies, economy and communities stronger.
- Participate in the labor force at a higher rate than the native-born population.
- Open businesses at a rate 1.5 times higher than the native-born population. In 2015, these refugee-owned businesses generated $4.6 billion in income.
- Pay back $21K more in taxes than they receive in benefits over their first 20 years in the U.S.
- Achieve, within 25 years, an average household income that’s $14K more than the total average household income for the U.S.*
“Refugees are hard working, loyal colleagues,” said Sam Pardue, CEO of Indow, who helped found We Hire Refugees and advocate for HB 2508 with legislators in Salem. “We need to be letting in more refugees, not fewer.”
Oregon’s lawmakers followed the historic U.S. trend of bipartisan support for refugee resettlement in this country.
Gov. Kate Brown signing HB 2508 to provide temporary state funding for refugee resettlement.
HB 2508 passed the 60-member Oregon House with only three no votes from Republicans including Rep. Werner Reschke (R-Klamath Falls), Rep. Mike Nearman (R-Independence) and Rep. Bill Post (R-Keizer). It passed unanimously in the Senate with two absent including Sens. Fred Girod ( R-Lyons) and Dennis Linthicum (R-Klamath Falls) and another, Sen. Brian Boquist (R-Dallas), excused.
New York is the only other state that has passed comparable legislation to fund refugee resettlement. We Hire Refugees asks businesses to support similar initiatives and legislation to preserve the nation’s resettlement ecosystem which started after World War II to settle Jewish refugees. It is also asks businesses to support increasing the refugee admissions cap.
We Hire Refugees signatory and Georgia businessman Chris Chancey is the author of the new book, Refugee Workforce: The Economic Case for Hiring the Displaced.
“This underrated workforce, if we choose to recognize it, is the one best positioned to stimulate America’s future economic growth,” said Chancey. He is the founder of Amplio Recruiting, a staffing agency placing refugees into jobs around the US. Amplio is based out of Atlanta, Georgia and began to lobby in 2017 to create positive change in the state of Georgia for the refugee workforce.
HR 11 and forward steps for Georgia: a model for other states
Georgia made a huge step forward in their embrace and support of global talent by unanimously passing HR 11 in 2021. HR 11 establishes a study committee to identify barriers to employment for global talent in the state of Georgia and it stands alone as an immigration bill in the last decade with bipartisan sponsors and support in the state. As the study committee takes shape and sees success in identifying and removing barriers, we’re excited to see how this will pave the way for other states to follow.
*Source: The New American Economy, “From Struggle to Resilience: The Economic Impact of Refugees in America” and the National Bureau of Economic Research.
“Refugees are hard working, loyal colleagues. Admitting refugees helps people in desperate need and also helps us maintain a robust economy. We need to be letting in more refugees, not fewer.”