July RMC: What is Your Immigration Story?

In Oregon, July is a celebration of community on every level – from the block party, to the state fair, to the national celebration of US independence from European colonialism.  We know that there are ugly histories interwoven with our national story (with injustices against Native cultures at the top of the list), but we also know that pride and celebration of our country is a bridge that speaks to our neighbors. In the spirit of community, the July RMC message is about migration, laying roots and acceptance.

 Immigrants are not only workers in our towns; they are also parents, congregation members, baseball coaches, and participants in keeping our communities vibrant & growing.This month, the RMC is pleased to share the stories of some ROP members that also are new immigrants, generational immigrants and those perceived as immigrants, who call Oregon home.

Share your own family story of immigration, invite a friend to share theirs, or pull from the stories below. Write a letter that shares how you value the role of immigrants in our history, and in our future, and also how acceptance has long been a challenge – but that ultimately the moral arc of our community curves toward unity and justice.

Sample letter for July:

Dear Editor,

One of my family’s proudest stories is the tale of how my great-grandfather snuck in on the boat from Eastern Europe and traveled cross country on a train cattle car with nothing but a satchel and a new pair of shoes that he had bought in Prague to prepare for his long journey to a new home. He was known as a WOP, without papers (undocumented in those days). He settled in Kentucky, and wore out those new shoes tilling the clay soil to grow turnips and grains to feed himself and his countryside community. I carried on his tradition of seeking out a new home by packing a satchel of my own and heading here to Oregon on a greyhound bus, setting down roots and doing everything I can to contribute to my new homeland.

This July, when I think of my own family’s migration, I am so glad that today’s immigrants, documented or not, are choosing rural Oregon for their new home. I welcome them as brothers and sisters to help build ___ (my town) as beautiful and thriving a place. I am excited to live in a community where new faces are welcomed and appreciated for the long hard journey they took and the chance that let them land in my neighborhood. Happy 4th of July neighbor, friend, countryman!

 Name, Address, Phone number


Stories to Share

Yesenia, Columbia County,
Latinos Unidos Para un Futuro Mejor

I’m 21 years old and my family has lived in St. Helens for thirteen years. My sense of community started with my sense of family. I think the most important thing about the concept of "community" is that it is a support system that motivates individuals and gives life to the spaces and places that we call home.

What is a city without a community? Just a bunch of buildings, and individuals with no sense of common purpose and no connection to each other. My parents taught me that helping others is the most useful thing that I could do with my life and that is what I intend to do.

To think that if my parents hadn’t immigrated when they were young that I wouldn’t be here is hard to fathom. Oregon is my home, the place that has shaped the person I have become. I do not know who I would have been without it.

Keyla, Yamhill County,
Newberg Coalition for Human Dignity

All the while we were in Mexico [over 13 years ago] my parents moved us from place to place looking for work.
As a young adult I moved a lot, not because of work, but because I was looking for a place where I would feel safe, at peace, a place where I and my future family could call home.

Newberg has been the place that I’ve picked to raise a family. I only knew one person here in town so that’s what motivated me to volunteer, to make new friends. A group of volunteers and I have been working on a community garden for the past 2 years and it’ll be completed in July ’10. But I’ve never been so proud and passionate about a project like our community garden here in Newberg.

This town has felt like home ever since I’ve moved here and I’m not leaving 🙂 I’m here to contribute to my community, to my town, Newberg.


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