Saturday, August 11, 2007

Good news for Multnomah County (and Oregon)

Oregonian reporter Esmeralda Burmudez reports this week on the surge in Latino residents in Multnomah County. The article State's face is changing – fast has the subtitle: Oregon sees a surge in Latinos, who account for nearly all new Multnomah County residents since 2000.

What does this mean for Multnomah County? Among other things it means a growing population of people who have traditional Christian values and favor larger, close knit families.

Ramiro Mendoza moved his wife and four children to Multnomah County 21/2 years ago from Reno to start a business. Trying their luck, they heard Oregon was a good place to live.
. . .
As seen for years, the growth of Latinos continues to overshadow that of other groups because of high birth rates, said George Hough, director of Portland State University's Population Research Center.

This population is pro-life.

Latino residents look at Multnomah County and see how poorly its government has done in providing basic government services—like protection.

Jovina Rosario moved to Gresham's Rockwood neighborhood six months ago from Beaverton. The single mother of two is out of work, and her neighborhood is heavy with crime and gangs.

On the west side, she worked odd jobs at Pizza Hut and Subway, but she no longer could afford to pay rent.

"I didn't move to Multnomah County by choice," she said. "Crazy stuff happens here, like gangs. I got kids, and it's not safe for them. If I could, I would move back to Beaverton."

I know a couple who tend toward the left side of the political spectrum. When the Multnomah County/City of Portland neighborhood they had lived in for decades started getting violent, they did just what Jovina Rosario wants to do but can't. They moved to a safer West side neighborhood. They could afford it. Voting for more and better policing is not on their priority list. But, it is on Jovina Rosario's list and others like her.

Bermudez doesn't note the difference in values these Latinos bring, but one big difference with the old guard in Multnomah County is strong Catholic values. Not only pro-life, but pro-religion as a central part of family and community life.

The surge in Mendozas and Rosarios give hope for a better Multnomah County--and a better Oregon.

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