Tuesday, February 7, 2023

US: Government allows citizens to sponsor refugees

Ordinary Americans will be able to help refugees adjust to life in the United States through a new State Department program that will allow citizens to participate in the resettlement of the thousands who arrive each year.

The State Department is scheduled to announce the Welcome Corps program on Thursday. The agency aims to recruit 10,000 Americans who can help 5,000 refugees in the program’s first year.

“Leveraging the goodwill of American communities, the Welcome Corps will expand our nation’s capacity to warmly welcome large numbers of refugees,” according to the announcement.

The State Department has already worked with aid groups that specialize in refugee issues to help people from around the world navigate their way to a completely different lifestyle when they first arrive in the country. According to the program to be announced on Thursday, five or more Americans will be able to form a group and fill this role.

These individuals will apply to sponsor refugees to settle in the United States on their own and will be responsible for raising their own resources to help them during their first 90 days in the country. This assistance will cover everything from finding them a place to live to enrolling the children in schools.

A consortium of relief groups with experience in refugee resettlement will help oversee vetting and certification of individuals and groups seeking to become personal sponsors. They will also provide training to individual sponsors to understand what it takes to help refugees adjust to living in the United States. The consortium will be responsible for monitoring the programme.

According to the State Department, the new initiative will be developed in two phases. Under the first phase, individual sponsors will be matched with refugees already approved for resettlement under the United States Refugee Assistance Program. It will start in the first half of 2023.

In the second phase of the program, private sponsors will be able to identify refugees overseas they wish to help, then refer those people to the Refugee Assistance Program and assist them when they arrive in the United States.

The Welcome Corps program follows a similar, smaller-scale initiative in which Americans sponsor Afghans or Ukrainians who have fled their countries. That program, launched in October 2021, has helped more than 800 people come to the United States through a network of 230 certified sponsors.

President Joe Biden announced an executive order to restore America as the paradise on earth in 2021 and called for private sponsors of refugees. The previous administration of President Donald Trump largely reversed the refugee program.

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Santana is on Twitter as @ruskygal

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