The US is a safe haven, a place of refuge for the weary, the poor, the huddled masses, who yearn to breathe freely. Although this mantra is not always true. Now, fortunately, it has become easier for Americans to take matters into their own hands and make this aspiration a reality. How to do it, said the publication VOX.
On January 19, the administration of US President Joe Biden launched the Welcome Corps, a new program that will allow groups of Americans to directly sponsor the resettlement of refugees in their communities.
While recent programs have focused on resettling people from specific locations (Afghanistan, Ukraine, Venezuela), this program allows individuals to resettle people from anywhere in the world if they are refugees, as defined by the US Refugee Act.
Through the Welcome Corps program, you and a few of your friends can pool funds to secure an immigration path. This will allow vulnerable people who might not otherwise be able to immigrate to rebuild their lives in the US.
Forming a private sponsorship group includes bringing together at least five adults in your area and a collective fee of $2 for each person you wish to relocate. With this money, sponsors are committed to helping them during the first three months, which includes providing and furnishing housing, replenishing the pantry with food, support in finding a job and registering children in school.
It is a powerful way to improve the lives of new arrivals by providing them with protection from persecution or violence in their country of origin, as well as access to health care, education, and socioeconomic opportunities. This will also improve the lives of everyone who comes near the new arrivals, including you and your neighbors. Research shows that accepting refugees is more likely to benefit your community as a whole, such as opening new businesses that revitalize neighborhoods. In Canada, a similar private sponsorship program has proven extremely popular and successful over the past decade.
The logical question would be why private individuals should spend money, time and energy on the resettlement of refugees? Shouldn't this be the task of the government?
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It should be noted that individuals have long been involved in the resettlement process in one form or another—for example, through co-sponsorship between religious groups (such as churches, synagogues, or mosques) and public infrastructure. And by directly sponsoring refugees, citizens can offer them more social support than the government alone can, in part because they focus on one particular refugee or refugee family, rather than dividing their attention among thousands, as is inevitably the case with government agencies.
“When refugees have to flee their country of origin, they lose social connections and social capital,” said Elizabeth Foidel, director of the private sponsorship program at the nonprofit International Refugee Project, one of the many groups pushing for the Welcome Corps. – This is a really difficult aspect of coming to a new place. But if you are sponsored by a private group, you get the opportunity to use all their social connections and, perhaps, it is easier to integrate into one or another community.
However, the remark is fair: this is the work of the government. This is why the advocacy groups that promoted the Welcome Corps program insisted that any refugees coming to the US through private sponsorship be in addition to the number of traditional government-supported resettlements.
The State Department made it clear that it agreed. This means that by sponsoring a refugee, you can play a role in allowing the US to take in more refugees overall.
Unlike previous programs for Afghans or Ukrainians, which were temporary, ad-hoc responses to crises, Welcome Corps is meant to be used permanently. It is hoped that this will complement the traditional resettlement process.
Why the US is failing with refugees
Biden's official goal for fiscal year 2022 was to resettle 125 refugees, and this ambitious goal was set in response to growing global displacement. Instead, about 000 people were resettled.
“We have a lot of national myths about being a safe haven and a nation of immigrants,” Feidel said. – And for a long time the US was the first country in terms of resettlement. In my opinion, it is perfectly fair to say that over the past few years we have failed. Overall, you're seeing a pretty significant decline."
Compared to the high level in 1980, when the US Refugee Act was signed into law, the number of people admitted has generally declined.
If you look back 40 years or so, you will see that the resettlement of refugees used to be a bipartisan issue. For example, the years of George W. Bush and the years of Barack Obama are comparable. But over the past couple of decades, we have seen a rather extreme politicization of what should be a mainstream part of the American narrative, and this has finally begun to affect the number of refugees.
Feudel said the 11/XNUMX attacks were a turning point. Since then, refugees, especially those from the Middle East, have been increasingly viewed as a possible security threat. As a result, the security review process has become so rigorous that it has become a long and arduous process.
Then came the rise of nativist discourse during the presidency of Donald Trump. The administration of the 45th President reduced the reception of refugees to a historic low of 15 people. Because funding for refugee agencies is tied to the refugee cap, agencies have been forced to lay off staff and close offices. Restrictions related to the COVID-000 pandemic have also played a role in slowing down the resettlement of refugees. Canada, which is home to just over a tenth of the US population, has overtaken America as the world leader in relocation.
Under Biden, the US tried to rebuild the resettlement infrastructure, albeit perhaps too slowly. The agencies have found themselves in the unfortunate position of having to rebuild their forces even as they try to serve thousands of Afghans, Ukrainians and others with the meager resources they currently have.
This is where the Welcome Corps comes in.
“We really hope that this will significantly increase throughput,” said Feidel. "What's interesting about the private sponsorship program is that it can be a permanent and sustainable vehicle for Americans."
How to Create a Private Sponsorship Circle in 6 Steps
The private sponsorship program will consist of two streams. One is identification: if the sponsoring group has someone specific in mind (for example, someone they have worked with overseas), they can nominate that person for relocation. For example, a former foreign correspondent posted to Bangladesh wants to sponsor someone he worked with there.
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Another option: if the sponsors do not have a refugee in mind, then they will be connected with someone who is already in the system. By doing this, they will help him get out of a very long line that can take years.
Remember, even if the U.S. government somehow manages to meet its fiscal year 2023 admission target of 125 refugees, advocates expect private sponsorship to attract thousands more beyond that.
How to help:
- Form a group of five or more adults.
- Have each group member complete a mandatory background check. This is a quick online criminal record check process.
- Ask one of the group members to take the online course. On it you will learn some tips on how to make your sponsorship circle skillful and successful.
- Complete your welcome plan. To do this, you will need to explore the resources available in your community for needs such as work and language training. Starting Feb. 1, you can get help creating your welcome plan at our official support sessions every Wednesday at 19:30 pm ET. You will need to sign a simple commitment form.
- Fundraising. You will need bank statements or other proof that you have $2 for each refugee you hope to take in.
- Fill out the application form. When you follow steps 1-5, it will only take 10 minutes.
That's all! If your group is motivated, then you can complete this process in a couple of weeks of easy work. Once you submit your application, it will take several weeks before you receive a response. If your application is approved, in one to two months you will welcome sponsored refugees into your community.
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