Biden Administration Announces New Private Refugee Sponsorship Program
Earlier today, the Biden Administration announced a private refugee sponsorship program, under which ordinary private citizens can band together and sponsor refugees for entry into the United States. This new program may be confused with previous private migration sponsorship policies like Uniting for Ukraine and its extension to migrants from four Latin American nations. The new program broader than these previous initiatives in some ways, but narrower in others. It’s a useful, but so far limited, innovation.
CBS has a helpful description of the new policy:
The Biden administration initiative, called Welcome Corps, could pave the way for a seismic shift in U.S. refugee policy, as most refugees brought to the U.S. for the past decades have been resettled by nine nonprofit organizations that receive federal funding.
Under the program, modeled after a long-standing system in Canada, groups of at least five U.S.-based individuals could have the opportunity to sponsor refugees if they raise $2,275 per refugee, pass background checks and submit a plan about how they will assist the newcomers.
Approved private sponsors will play the role of traditional resettlement agencies for at least 90 days after a refugee’s arrival, helping the newcomers access housing and other basic necessities, such as food, medical services, education and public benefits for which they qualify.
During the first phase of the program, State Department officials will match approved sponsors with refugees overseas who already have been cleared to come to the U.S. In mid-2023, officials plan to allow prospective sponsors to identify refugees abroad whom they wish to assist.
The State Department fact sheet on the the Welcome Corps policy has more details, as does Reason immigration writer Fiona Harrigan. There is also a new website on which groups can apply to become sponsors.
As CBS notes, Welcome Corps may turn out to be a major improvement over the slow and sclerotic traditional refugee admissions system, under which only 25,000 people entered the US in fiscal year 2022. Immigration experts, myself included, have long advocated that the US adopt a private sponsorship system modeled in part on the successful Canadian program.
Unlike Uniting for Ukraine and its extensions, Welcome Corps applies to people form all over the world, not just five specific countries. In addition, successful applicants are given refugee status, which includes a right of permanent residency in the US. By contrast, beneficiaries of Uniting for Ukraine and its Latin American analogues currently only get residency and work permits for two years. And that status could potentially be revoked at
Article from Reason.com