1451 Onyx St.
Creating Communities of Welcome: Understanding Motives to Assist Immigrants and Refugees in a Hostile Era
Kristin Yarris, Brenda Garcia Millan, Karla Schmidt-Murillo (Dept. of International Studies)
In this presentation, we draw on interviews conducted with thirty volunteers who work to assist immigrants and refugees in Oregon to understand their motives to help. Our preliminary analysis shows that motivations to aid immigrants and refugees are both personal and political; that is, people are motivated to help by a politics of affect, a sense of justice and fairness, and by personal narratives, family histories, and religious values. These motives of care are the basis upon which these volunteers, whom we consider informal humanitarians, act to create spaces of welcome for immigrants and refugees in Oregon, despite (and in the face of) an increasingly-hostile political climate in the U.S. We use these findings to consider the implications for social movements and public policy that foster global connectedness and cross-cultural understanding in the contemporary context of rising nationalism and ethnocentrism.