The United States has launched a program that allows private ‘sponsorship’ of refugees.

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Despite disagreements over Biden administration policies, immigrant rights advocates embrace a new option for refugee resettlement.

US launches programme allowing private ‘sponsorship’ of refugees

The United States is introducing a new program that will allow groups of people and organizations in the United States to “sponsor” refugees seeking asylum in the nation, a move that rights groups applauded as a positive step.

The US Department of State announced the creation of the “Welcome Corps” on Thursday, which would allow the general public to contribute to the costs of resettlement for refugees arriving under the US Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP).

A minimum of $2,275 will need to be raised by groups of at least five persons for each sponsored refugee. According to a linked government website, the sponsor groups, which are open to US citizens or permanent residents, will also need to pass background checks and develop a support plan.

The US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, declared in a statement that “The Welcome Corps is the boldest innovation in refugee resettlement in four decades.”

By utilizing the enthusiasm and skills of Americans from all walks of life who want to serve as private sponsors, it is intended to improve and increase the capacity of the USRAP.

Refugee advocacy organizations, who have been urging US President Joe Biden’s administration to do more to help address the unprecedented number of refugees globally, have welcomed the announcement.

Rights organizations and the Biden administration have fought over a number of divisive immigration policies, including limitations meant to stop the influx of migrants and refugees along the southern border of the US with Mexico.
According to a fact sheet from the Department of State, Welcome Corps will initially only be available to refugees who have previously received approval for entrance into the US. Private sponsors will eventually be able to choose which refugees to aid.

According to Blinken, the objective of the scheme, which is modeled after one used in Canada, is to recruit at least 10,000 Americans to act as private sponsors for at least 5,000 migrants in the first year of operation.

The program, according to Elizabeth Foydel, head of the private sponsorship program at the International Refugee Assistance Project, is “a concrete step towards not just rebuilding but also innovating US refugee resettlement to boost capacity and effectiveness.”

In order to create a long-lasting private sponsorship program that improves communities, fosters relationships amongst new neighbors, and helps more refugees find a safe place to call home, we look forward to working with the Biden administration, said Foydel.

HIAS, a renowned refugee resettlement organisation in the US, also praised the establishment of Welcome Corps as presenting “a new, permanent opportunity for Americans to welcome #refugees from crises globally”.

Refugee Cap
Biden faced calls to raise the refugee admissions ceiling when he took office in early 2021, after his predecessor, Donald Trump, placed it at a historically low level as part of his administration’s push to curb immigration.

According to program data, Biden set a ceiling of 125,000 refugee admissions into the US for this fiscal year, which began on October 1, 2022, but only 6,750 migrants arrived from October to December.

The Department of State stated in Thursday’s fact sheet that the new refugee resettlement program honored a commitment made by Biden, who had lambasted Trump’s immigration position and promised to reverse some of his harsher measures.

But, in recent months, Biden has taken a tougher stance as right-wing lawmakers blamed him for an increase in the number of migrants and refugees seeking entry into the United States at the border with Mexico.

When the Biden administration recently tried to strengthen one of the Trump administration’s most contentious immigration measures, Title 42, immigrant rights groups were outraged. On the pretext of combating COVID-19, US authorities have utilized the tactic to turn away the majority of asylum claimants at the border.

The Republican-led states had filed lawsuits to keep the program in place, and the Biden administration had initially moved to end it.

To the outrage of rights organizations, it just declared that it will start returning asylum seekers from Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Haiti to Mexico.

At the same time, the US will grant two-year work visas to up to 30,000 natives of Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela who enter the US each month. However, this procedure, called as “parole,” only applies to people who have a sponsor who is based in the US, has through extensive screening, and will provide financial support.

Rights activists contend that making it easier and more common for refugees to enter the US can assist address irregular migration. Thousands of people have recently been compelled to embark on dangerous travels to flee conflict and natural disasters in their native nations.

Former Biden administration immigration official Andrea Flores applauded the new US refugee resettlement program unveiled this week. Flores wrote on Twitter, “We need innovative pilot initiatives like Welcome Corps to handle global migration trends.

The Biden Administration will ultimately reduce congestion at the border, avoiding the need to put further restrictions on asylum, thanks to private sponsorship for refugees and new parole possibilities.


Originally published as US launches programme allowing private ‘sponsorship’ of refugees



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