Oregon Worker Relief’s

Immigrant Justice Program

Exclusion in the Time of Pandemic

Under a racialized immigration system designed to exploit people and push them out beyond the margins of society, the COVID-19 pandemic laid bare and exacerbated dangerous inequities for immigrant Oregonians. Nearly every aspect of life in Oregon was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Like people all around the world, Oregonians gained perspective on the interconnectedness of our communities. The pandemic made clear that our health and prosperity are inextricably linked with the health and prosperity of our co-workers, neighbors, friends, and family members. But it was also quickly apparent that the pandemic was worsening existing inequities for immigrant Oregonians, particularly those who are people of color with a precarious immigration status.

Oregon Worker Relief’s Immigrant Justice Program seeks to eliminate barriers to pandemic relief caused by precarious immigration status. As documented and explained in Oregon Worker Relief’s report, Narrowing the Gap, the historic exclusion of these underserved communities from social and civic safety systems and recovery structures has urgent short-term implications, such as housing and food insecurity, and profound long-term implications, including marginalization, erasure, family separation, and civic exclusions.

How can we narrow the recovery gap?

Oregon Worker Relief is a community-governed initiative that uses an equity-focused design thinking approach to solve for the short-and long-term negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the underserved immigrant and refugee communities. We can solve for the immigration legal precarity experienced by immigrant and refugee communities prevents access to health systems and health care, civic support systems such as unemployment and rental support, food assistance and other aspects of civic life. Oregon Worker Relief’s Immigrant Justice Program directly addresses these long-standing inequities by providing immigration legal services to immigrants and refugees impacted by the pandemic who were left out of the pandemic recovery.

Immigrant Justice Program

Through a partnership and funding provided by the City of Portland, OWR seeks to provide equity-based capacitation to individuals with lived community experience and who could be attorneys or accredited representatives in order to support the provision of immigration legal services to impacted communities. The grants will build capacity at community-based organizations serving the Oregon immigrant and refugee community, develop capacity for new legal representatives with lived community experience to work in the field and community, and create more community-centered solutions to mitigate immigration legal precarity associated with household instability. OWR will provide community engagement to support the provision of immigration legal services to eligible individuals in order to mitigate immigration legal precarity that contributes to household destabilization.

Eligible organizations could receive up to $20,000 for legal infrastructure capacity-building and could receive an additional amount of funding, up to $10,000, for training qualified individuals.


Interim Grant Guidelines Published4/8/2022
Info Session @ OWR Stand-up4/12/2022 & 5/3/2022
Comments Received5/24/22
Final Guidelines Published + Application Open 6/15/2022
Applications Due7/15/2022 9pm
Award Decisions8/1/2022
Reporting DeadlineTBD

Download the Capacity-Building Guidelines

Apply for a Capacity-Building Grant