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As many as 400 Afghan immigrants may settle in Oregon in the near future, leaders say.

COURTESY PHOTO: KOIN 6 NEWS - Oregon state Sen. Kayse Jama speaks at the Friday, Sept. 10, event.The city of Portland kicked off Welcoming Week activities to show support for immigrants and refugees in the community on Friday, Sept. 10.

City and state leaders said Oregon likely will be welcoming refugees from Afghanistan in the near future.

Oregon state Sen. Kayse Jama understands the refugee experience firsthand.

"Anyone who is fleeing war has to be welcomed because I was one of them," Jama said at the Gateway Discovery Park event on Friday evening. "As a former refugee from Somalia, I understand the challenges those community members are facing."

Regardless of how many arrive, leaders in the Portland area said they want them to know they are welcome here.

Jama said his office and others are working to get ready for a new wave of Afghan refugees.

"We are hearing numbers between 300 to 400 members of Afghan refugees who may arrive in Oregon," he said. "But we are preparing ourselves."

Lee Po Cha, the executive director of the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization, said it also will play a special role in helping those refugees once they arrive.

"As a former refugee, I'm just so excited we have such an event," he said. "IRCO will be one of the agencies that will be serving many of the Afghan refugees who will be coming to the state of Oregon. For the last few weeks, that's all we've been talking about, so at the local level, we are very ready, very ready for this population."

City commissioners Jo Ann Hardesty and Carmen Rubio also were at the Friday event. Hardesty said no matter what's happening nationally, Portland is a city of love.

"Whether it's one or 1,000 or 10,000, we will welcome them, and we will find a place for them to incorporate them in our community," Hardesty said. "We are just really here to say thank you and you are welcome here."

The complete list of Welcoming Week events can be found here.

KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune.


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