New US program to allow direct citizen sponsorship of refugees and immigrants

WASHINGTON (Caasimada Online) – The State Department has unveiled a pilot program called Welcome Corps, which aims to permit American citizens and permanent residents to sponsor the resettlement of refugees escaping war and violence worldwide. 

This initiative, launched under the Biden administration, marks a significant shift in US refugee policy. In recent years, most refugees brought to the US have been resettled by non-profit organizations that receive federal funding.

The Welcome Corps program allows groups of at least five US-based individuals to sponsor refugees by raising $2,275 per refugee, passing background checks, and submitting a plan to assist newcomers.

Approved sponsors will act as traditional resettlement agencies for a minimum of 90 days after a refugee’s arrival, assisting the newcomers in accessing housing and other necessities such as food, medical services, education, and public benefits for which they qualify.

The program, which mirrors a long-standing system in Canada, will begin by matching approved sponsors with refugees overseas who have already been cleared to come to the US. In mid-2023, authorities plan to enable potential sponsors to select refugees from overseas that they desire to support.

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken stated that the Welcome Corps initiative would help increase refugee admissions and is “the boldest innovation in refugee resettlement in four decades.”

The State Department hopes to recruit 10,000 private sponsors to resettle about 5,000 refugees during the program’s first year.

Organizations with experience in resettling refugees will oversee the sponsor application process, provide sponsors with training and resources, and monitor the progress of groups sponsoring refugees.

The Welcome Corps initiative is the latest effort by the Biden administration to expand the US legal immigration channels for refugees and migrants who have family members and others in the US willing to sponsor them financially.

In recent years, the US government has implemented a series of programs that allow private individuals to sponsor refugees and displaced persons from certain countries.

In late 2021, the State Department began allowing “sponsor circles” of at least five individuals to sponsor Afghan evacuees relocated to the US following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. 

Additionally, in early 2022, officials launched a program that allowed displaced Ukrainians to come to the US with the support of US-based sponsors. This policy has reportedly resulted in over 100,000 Ukrainian migrants coming to the US. 

Furthermore, the government has expanded this approach to allow US-based sponsors to help citizens from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela to migrate to the US. These migrants will be granted temporary legal status to live and work in the US through the humanitarian parole authority. 

However, unlike those arriving under the parole authority, the refugees who will come under the sponsorship initiative announced on Thursday will be eligible for permanent legal status and, ultimately, US citizenship, as they will be processed through the traditional US refugee program.

The US refugee program, established in 1980, has provided a home for over 3 million refugees. The new Welcome Corps initiative aims to continue this legacy by allowing private citizens to play a crucial role in resettling refugees in the US.

Source: Caasimada Online and News Agencies