This study examines the immigrant justice movement in the Northwestern United States and the advocacy efforts of social justice organizations addressing the multiple levels of oppression that immigrants and refugees experience. The work of the Western States Center in Portland, Oregon provides the lens through which the study was conducted. The advocates are organizations involved in the programmatic work of the Western States Center, who engage in policy change initiatives that reflect their values of equality, racial justice, and human dignity. The advocacy strategy incorporates an understanding of the interplay among policy, legislation, oppression, and movement building.

Immigrants face threats of violence through both culturally and institutionally sanctioned practices. An understanding of the power structures that enable the continuation of this state of oppression is critical to developing a social justice movement that both liberates oppressed groups and empowers them to participate fully in society. While working to break down prejudices, the advocates are also working to build power, and influence those currently in positions of power. The negative language disseminated through electoral campaigns spreads stereotypes that increase the degree of direct personal oppression immigrants face. This study is based, in part, on a report of immigration as an issue in the 2006 elections. The goals of producing the document included comparing stories from across the region in order to identify common themes and messages, and creating a starting point for increased dialogue around changing the terms of the debate in order to avoid repeating or simply reacting to the current negative framing. The report folds into more extensive efforts to build a stronger cross-regional relationship amongst the advocates that enables them to provide support and strengthen each other’s work. This study assesses the role of the report in this movement and the efforts of the advocates to increase immigrant justice through the lens of a multi-oppression analysis.


Immigration Law | Politics and Social Change