“boldest innovation in refugee resettlement in four decades”

I have posted on proposals by Republican governors for states to assume some of the role of managing immigration. I have posted on a Biden initiative use private sponsorships to fast track a special kind of temporary visa, humanitarian parole. Now I post on a significant innovation of private partnership in the entire refugee resettlement process.

The Center for Immigration Studies published an analysis of the administration’a initiative in private sponsorship of refugees.

On January 19, 2023 the Biden Administration announced the creation of the Welcome Corps, “boldest innovation in refugee resettlement in four decades.” The administration said the program is in part built upon the experience in resettling Afghan, Ukrainian, Venezuelan and other refugees since the start of the Biden administration.

A key party in the Welcome Corps is the Community Sponsorship Hub, a non-profit created in 2016 by foundation grants and the work of several organizations, including the International Rescue Committee, the Refugee Council USA, and the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.

The Hub introduces itself as follows: “The Welcome Corps is a program launched by the U.S. Department of State, administered by a consortium led by the Community Sponsorship Hub with funding provided by the U.S. government. Through the Welcome Corps, everyday Americans come together to privately sponsor refugees, building on our country’s long tradition of providing refuge.”

The American Community Sponsorship Hub was modeled after earlier founded Hubs in other English speaking countries.

In Canada, the Community Sponsorship Hub model was first established in 1978 with the creation of the Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) program.  In Australia, the Community Sponsorship Hub model was first established in 2013 by the Settlement Services International (SSI) organization. The program is now known as the Community Refugee Sponsorship Initiative. In the UK, the Community Sponsorship Hub was established in 2016.

The CIS says:

Under this new program, refugees will be selected for resettlement into the United States and then assisted during their first few months here by private individuals. These prerogatives were, until now, those of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and nine religious or community-based organizations called “resettlement agencies”. UNHCR was entrusted with the selection and referral of refugees for resettlement into the United States, while resettlement agencies were funded by the Department of State to assist refugees upon arrival.

This will no longer exclusively be the case with the launching of the Welcome Corps. This doesn’t mean that refugees will stop being selected for resettlement by UNHCR and assisted upon arrival by resettlement agencies. The U.S. resettlement program is just expanding by allowing private individuals (backed by various humanitarian organizations) to take on the primary responsibility of selecting, welcoming, and providing initial support to refugees. It will not replace, but is complementary to, the traditional resettlement process led by UNHCR and resettlement agencies.

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