The State Department on Thursday announced a new program to help average Americans sponsor refugees who arrive in the U.S.
The Welcome Corps aims during its first year to line up some 10,000 Americans who can help 5,000 refugees who arrive through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP).
“Over the past year, the American people have extended an extraordinarily welcoming hand to our Afghan allies, Ukrainians displaced by war, and Venezuelans and others fleeing violence and oppression. The Welcome Corps will build on Americans’ generosity of spirit by creating a durable program for Americans in communities across the country to privately sponsor refugees from around the world,” the State Department said on a fact sheet explaining the Welcome Corps.
Traditionally, the State Department has worked with nonprofit groups that specialize in refugee assistance. Under the new program five or more Americans will be able to form a group and fill this role as well.
The groups of five or more would apply to privately sponsor refugees looking to resettle in America. They would then be responsible for raising their own money to help the refugees during their first 90 days in the country. That help could include everything from greeting refugees at the airport to finding them a place to live to getting kids enrolled in school.
A consortium of non-profits would help the helpers, meanwhile, offering training to the private sponsors to help them understand what the refugees need to adjust to their new lives. The non-profits will also help oversee vetting and certification of potential sponsors, and be responsible for monitoring the program.
The Welcome Corps has been endorsed by more than 200 organizations.
President Biden has made it a goal to welcome 125,000 refugees per year into the U.S. He reiterated in September that it was his target for fiscal year 2023, even as the U.S. had admitted fewer than 20,000 refugees at that point for the year 2022.
That 2022 number excluded the roughly 180,000 Ukrainians and Afghans who came to the United States via a legal process called humanitarian parole which allowed them to enter the country more quickly than traditional refugees but only allows for stays of up to two years.