Biden admin to launch pilot program to allow Americans to sponsor refugees directly
The State Department program, Welcome Corps, will allow groups of private American citizens to sponsor refugees through the Refugee Resettlement Program if they raise enough money, pass background checks and come up with a plan on how to support them.
Reuters first reported the details of the program, which will require groups of at least five people to raise a minimum of $2,275 per refugee, before passing the checks.
The outlet also reported that it would aim to find sponsors for 5,000 refugees before the end of the current fiscal year in September. Those details were confirmed to Fox News Digital ahead of an expected announcement on Thursday. The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The State Department had announced its plan for a private sponsorship program in a report to Congress last year and was planning for a launch in late 2022 that was ultimately delayed.
‘The purpose of the program is to increase and deepen the involvement of local communities in effective refugee resettlement, recognizing the significant and impactful role that local community actors have long played in supporting the welcome and integration of refugees admitted to the United States through the [U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.]’ the agency said in the report. ‘The program is intended to complement the Reception and Placement Program by creating new, additional opportunities for individuals and organizations nationwide to be directly engaged in supporting refugee resettlement.’
The department said it is being launched as a pilot to allow the agency to test and evaluate various components of the program, ‘and identify the successful elements of the pilot that will form the basis of an effective, sustainable private sponsorship that becomes a foundational part of U.S. refugee resettlement.’
The Biden administration has dramatically reversed the limits on refugee resettlement introduced during the Trump administration. The Trump administration reduced the yearly cap on refugees to 15,000. The Biden administration changed course and increased it to 125,000, but so far refugee resettlements have not come close to meeting that level.
It has also allowed private individuals to sponsor evacuees from both Afghanistan and Ukraine, as part of a broader commitment to opening legal avenues for migrants and refugees fleeing harm. The administration launched a program last year to bring in 100,000 Ukrainians via a program using humanitarian parole authority after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but that program does not contribute to the refugee cap.
More recently, the administration announced an expanded humanitarian parole program that allows up to 30,000 Venezuelan, Cuban, Haitian and Nicaraguan migrants to fly into the U.S. if they have a U.S.-based sponsor in response to a surge in migrants at the southern border.