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Department of State creates ‘Welcome Corps’ allowing Americans to sponsor refugees

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The United States State Department is trying to get everyday Americans to help with its refugee problem as the country’s asylum backlog reaches the highest number on record. Labeled the Welcome Corps, the State Department announced the new private sponsorship program for refugee resettlement “seeking to mobilize thousands of Americans as private sponsors for at least 5,000 refugees this year” reports Foreign Desk News.

“Officials said they hope this pilot program can help the administration come closer to meeting President Biden’s refugee admission goal but acknowledge that it will not resolve the shortfalls by itself.”

The Welcome Corps works by allowing American citizens and permanent residents to form “private sponsor groups to support refugees and help them integrate into American society as thriving members of their local communities” a teleconference transcript on the U.S. State Department website from January 19 reads.

The Private Sponsors Groups (PSGs) require at least several members 18 years old or above, living in or close to the same community they are welcoming the refugees. It will then become the responsibility of the sponsor groups to “welcome, house, and greet refugee newcomers at the airport, enroll children in school, and help adults find employment in the U.S.” adds FDN.

The sponsors must raise at least $2,275 for each refugee for their basic needs while they find employment. FDN reports that when asked whether there were any financial incentives for sponsors, officials said “no,” explaining that sponsors do this “because they want to help people in need.”

Officials did say that there may be some instances because of the private-public partnership where “private philanthropy may step up to help private sponsors raise funds needed in order to meet the requirements of the refugees” but that none of the private sponsors would “benefit financially in any way from resettling refugees.”

FDN adds that “In later months, the Welcome Corps will expand to allow private sponsors to identify the refugees they want to sponsor and refer applicants to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP).” On top of the minimum financial promises, PSGs are committed to providing “welcoming services” to incoming refugees for the first 90 days, including housing, basic needs, healthcare access, education, and employment services.

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