USCRI Releases Report on Private Sponsorship After Welcome Corps Launch

By USCRI February 3, 2023

The United States has launched a pilot program for private sponsorship of refugees, a significant development in how the country welcomes displaced people through its refugee admissions. Private refugee sponsorship models already exist in other countries—and in recent months the United States has increasingly asked individuals and communities to help sponsor people displaced from nations in turmoil such as Afghanistan, Ukraine, Venezuela, and Haiti.

This report by the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) analyzes private refugee sponsorship in the U.S. context and makes recommendations for its implementation within the United States. The new Welcome Corps program and any subsequent iteration of private sponsorship must draw substantive lessons from recent experiences in community sponsorship of Afghan and Ukrainian parolees, as well as the experiences of other national sponsorship programs in neighboring Canada and elsewhere. Private refugee sponsorship in the United States could serve as an effective complement to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program to help people displaced from their countries of origin and in need of protection under international humanitarian law. But it must have adequate guardrails to protect against exploitation and abuse, as well as appropriate support for sponsorship arrangements to succeed and effective support for refugees when sponsorship arrangements fall apart.

Principles of equity and inclusion must inform the selection of individuals who benefit from expanded pathways. Expanded complementary pathways must strengthen, not erode, the existing infrastructure and public-private partnerships underlying the established U.S. Refugee Admissions Program in support of American values and interests.

“USCRI believes that granting parole and using private sponsorship models should not benefit one nationality over others or favor individuals perceived as having more favorable assets or characteristics entering the United States,” said Eskinder Negash, President and CEO of USCRI. “Immigration status and resettlement methods must aim to bring safety and stability to the most vulnerable. Refugee admission pathways must remain primarily humanitarian in theory and practice.”

“We are excited about the addition of the Welcome Corps to the broader U.S. resettlement system to respond to the world’s displacement crises,” he added. “We are hopeful this program will offer a warm welcome to newcomers while preventing and addressing sponsorship breakdowns, guarding against abuses, and maintaining open lines of communication to ensure the success of the Welcome Corps.”

For the report, please click here.

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