Today, the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), Amnesty International USA (AIUSA), the Community Sponsorship Hub (CSH), and the Niskanen Center published a joint paper offering recommendations to the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) at the U.S. Department of State (DOS) for the launch of a private sponsorship pilot program for refugees.
President Biden’s Report to Congress on Proposed Refugee Admissions for Fiscal Year 2022, released on September 20, 2021, noted that a major initiative for the current fiscal year will be the implementation of a private sponsorship pilot program, “whereby community members will take on the primary responsibility of welcoming and providing initial support to newly arrived refugees.”
Private sponsorship is a promising innovation to restore and transform U.S. leadership in the global system for protection, particularly as the United States confronts new and emerging displacement crises around the world, from Afghanistan to Ukraine and beyond. The private sponsorship program can build on the community member and newcomer engagement that already occurs through traditional resettlement and co-sponsorship, strengthening the public’s sense of ownership of refugee resettlement by allowing communities, organizations, institutions, and companies the opportunity to directly engage.
As the pilot program’s launch draws closer, the joint paper provides recommendations to PRM on important design and infrastructure considerations, including:
- Designing the program around the principle of additionality to ensure it increases the number of refugees resettled in the United States annually;
- Establishing standardized national infrastructure with a focus on core operational functions and a mechanism for sponsors to identify eligible refugees around the world; and
- Engaging new partners by committing to a clear timeline for rollout, a multi-year funding structure, and funding for community outreach and sponsor recruitment efforts.
IRAP Private Sponsorship Program Director, Elizabeth Foydel, said:
“With strong design and cohesive infrastructure, the private sponsorship program can not only expand pathways to safety in the United States but also broaden and deepen the engagement of Americans in resettling refugees. The program will simultaneously allow Americans to step up in times of crisis and facilitate the public’s participation in welcoming their new neighbors.”
AIUSA Americas Advocacy Director, Amy Fischer, said:
“A private sponsorship model is critical to welcoming and supporting refugees impacted by human rights crises and worsening humanitarian disasters across the globe, from Ukraine to Afghanistan, to Haiti, Cameroon and beyond. The Biden administration has made significant strides in demonstrating its commitment to enhance the refugee program, and communities across the country are rising to the moment and investing in ways that more directly support refugees. The incorporation of recommendations in this joint paper can help build the robust welcome and promise of private sponsorship in the United States, and in turn, create more resilient and welcoming communities.”
CSH Executive Director and Co-Founder, Sarah Krause, said:
“Time and again, the American public has shown that they have the capacity and desire to welcome. By actioning the recommendations in this report, the Biden administration can significantly expand opportunities for local communities to engage in refugee resettlement, ultimately increasing the number of those who can receive protection from persecution.”
Niskanen Center Government Affairs Manager for Immigration Policy, Matthew La Corte, said:
“The Biden administration has committed to launching a private sponsorship pilot program in 2022, and these joint recommendations provide a roadmap for how administration officials can launch a successful pilot to enhance community involvement in the resettlement program. In the last year, we saw the enormous outpouring of support from Americans across the country who want to be directly involved in our refugee resettlement infrastructure. A private sponsorship pilot can harness that energy, breathing new life into our resettlement program and expanding our capacity to welcome refugees.”
IRAP, AIUSA, CSH, and the Niskanen Center encourage the U.S. government to design the program and its infrastructure as a sustainable, long-term part of U.S. resettlement architecture supporting expanded access for refugees and expanded opportunities for American engagement in welcoming.
Read the full recommendations: HERE
IRAP: Spencer Tilger, [email protected]
AIUSA: Gabby Arias, [email protected]
CSH: Danielle Grigsby, [email protected]
Niskanen Center: Louisa Tavlas, [email protected]