Frequently Asked Questions

What is a refugee?
Refugees are people who have been forced to flee their home country and who are unable to return because they are at risk for persecution due to race, nationality, religion, or membership in a particular social group or political opinion. This definition also sometimes includes people fleeing war or other armed conflict.

People become refugees when they cross country borders. They are displaced (or Internally Displaced Persons) when forced to flee their homes but remain within their own country.


How many refugees are coming to Portland and when are they getting here?
Around 1,800 refugees were expected to arrive in Portland from October 2016 to September 2017. This quota is determined every year by the local resettlement agencies and federal government, and this number has been reduced by our new administration. The arrival of refugees is spread throughout the year with new families arriving every week.


What are other widely known stats on refugees and resettlement?
• There are over 60 million people who are displaced around the globe today, while 42,500 people are uprooted and forced to flee for their lives each day. There are over 21 million refugees in the world.
• The average time of displacement is 17 years.
• Over 50% of refugees today are children.
• The vetting process takes an average of 18-24 months.
• Less than 1% of the world’s refugees are resettled in the United States.


Which countries are the refugees coming from who resettle in Portland?
The majority of refugees who are resettled in Portland are arriving from Iraq, Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar, Ukraine, Colombia, and Afghanistan. We have welcomed some Syrian refugees to Portland, and look forward to welcoming more.


Is it safe to have refugees in Portland?
The process for individuals to gain refugee status in the United States is an extensive one. Worldwide, the average processing time once someone has applied for refugee status is 18-24 months. Every refugee admitted into the United States undergoes a very thorough screening process led by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in consultation with the Department of Defense and FBI. Any person that has participated in war crimes or violations of humanitarian and human rights law, including the crime of terrorism, will not be given refugee status by the United States.

While this is a question worth asking, it’s important to remember that fear is never a more pragmatic response than love. Hope can be restored in the lives of many if we choose to allow perfect love to cast out all fear.


Are refugees automatically American citizens?
The status for refugees lasts for twelve months. During that time, they’re expected to work while becoming self-sufficient after eight months. After the first year, refugees are required to adjust their status to that of Permanent Resident Alien. They can then apply for citizenship after having been a resident in the United States for five years.


What’s the easiest way to get involved?
Our greatest need currently is funding. Giving a financial donation of any size is a significant way of being a part of this story. Donate here.

Restart kits are filled with essential items that refugees need to rebuild their lives in the United States. They’re a simple way to be a part of welcoming refugees to Portland. Get more information on the next Restart Kit Collection Day here.


How do I donate furniture or household items?
We’re currently not accepting donated items, but look forward to being able to receive these items again in the future.


Is my donation tax deductible?
Yes! You’ll receive a tax receipt when making a financial contribution or when donating furniture or restart kits.


Can I open up my home to host a family?
The tight rental market in Portland has made housing a challenge. While we are currently not offering this housing program, we may do so in the future. Feel free to send us an email if you would like to rent a room or part of your home to a single, couple, or refugee family, and you live in the Portland metro area.


What do refugees like most about living here?
This is a question that comes up often! While we would like to be able to answer with the Portland classics: Salt & Straw icecream, Powell’s books, Forest Park, food carts, etc., refugees are simply thankful to have a safe place to live. They have a home. Their children get an education. Their family finally has opportunities to succeed. Their new lives can be built on safety, freedom, and hope for the future.


Do you speak at churches, schools, or events?
Yes, send us an email. We would like to help create awareness within your community and share ways you can support the refugees in our city.


I love the “Home” film. How can I download it?
To show the film, click the “Download” button underneath the video player here. Select “Original” at 516MB. If you’re going to share the film, we’d love to know. Send us an email here.