US launches program that enables private ‘sponsorship’ of refugees


The United States is launching a new program that will allow groups of people and organizations in the US to “sponsor” refugees seeking refuge in the country, a move welcomed by rights groups as a positive one.

On Thursday, the U.S. State Department announced the introduction of the “Welcome Corps,” which will allow the general public to help meet the costs of resettling refugees arriving through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP).

Groups of at least five people are expected to raise a minimum of $2,275 per sponsored refugee. The sponsorship groups, which are open to U.S. citizens or permanent residents, will also have to pass background checks and create a support plan, according to a related government website.

“The Welcome Corps is the most daring innovation in refugee resettlement in four decades,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

“It is designed to strengthen and expand the capacity of the USRAP by leveraging the energy and talents of Americans from all walks of life who wish to serve as private sponsors.”

The announcement was welcomed by refugee advocacy groups, who have called on the administration of US President Joe Biden to do more to accommodate the record number of refugees worldwide.

Rights groups have clashed with the Biden administration over several contentious immigration policies, including restrictions to curb the arrival of migrants and refugees at the U.S.’s southern border with Mexico.

Welcome Corps will initially only apply to refugees already approved for entry into the US, the State Department said in a fact sheet. At a later stage, private sponsors will be able to identify refugees to support.

Blinken said Thursday the goal is to have at least 10,000 Americans come forward as private sponsors for at least 5,000 refugees in the first year of the program, similar to a model used in Canada.

The program is “a concrete step toward not only reconstruction, but also innovative resettlement of American refugees to enhance capacity and impact,” Elizabeth Foydel, director of the International Refugee Assistance Project’s private sponsorship program, said in a statement. .

“We look forward to working with the Biden administration to build a permanent private sponsorship program that deepens bonds between new neighbors, strengthens communities and empowers more refugees to find a safe place to call home ”, Foydel said.

HIAS, a prominent refugee resettlement group in the US, also welcomed the launch of Welcome Corps as offering “a new, permanent way for Americans to welcome #refugees from crises worldwide”.

Refugee cap

Upon taking office in early 2021, Biden faced calls to lift the refugee admission limit after his predecessor, Donald Trump, set it to an all-time low as part of his administration’s drive to limit immigration.

Biden set a limit of 125,000 refugees in the US for this fiscal year, which began October 1, 2022, but only 6,750 refugees arrived from October to December, according to program data.

In Thursday’s fact sheet, the State Department said the new refugee resettlement program fulfilled a promise made by Biden, who had criticized Trump’s stance on immigration and pledged to reverse some of his toughest policies.

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

Immigrant rights groups reacted with outrage when the Biden administration recently expanded one of the Trump administration’s most controversial immigration policies, Title 42. US authorities have used the measure to reject most asylum seekers at the border on the grounds of the fight against COVID-19. .

The Biden administration had initially tried to end the policy, but was blocked by the courts when Republican-led states sued to keep it in effect.

However, it recently announced it would return asylum seekers from Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and Haiti to Mexico, in what rights groups denounced as an extension of Title 42.

At the same time, the US will let as many as 30,000 Cuban, Haitian, Nicaraguan and Venezuelan nationals into the country each month and give them two-year work permits. But this process, known as “parole,” only applies to individuals who have a US-based sponsor who passes a rigorous vetting process and will provide financial support.

Rights advocates have argued that establishing more accessible and widespread ways for refugees to come to the US can help tackle irregular migration. In recent years, thousands of people have been forced to make perilous journeys to escape violence and disasters in their home countries.

Andrea Flores, a former immigration officer for the Biden administration, hailed the new US resettlement scheme announced this week. “We need creative pilot programs like Welcome Corps to address global migration trends,” Flores said in a Twitter post.

“With private sponsorships for refugees and new parole options, the Biden Admin will ultimately ease pressure at the border, eliminating the need to place new restrictions on asylum.”

Source link


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here