The Biden administration unveiled a new program on Thursday that will allow American citizens to sponsor refugees, CNN reports. The new program, named the "Welcome Corps," was called "the boldest innovation in refugee resettlement in four decades," by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
The program has groups of five people apply to sponsor refugees with the help of various nonprofit groups. The groups do not provide ongoing financial help, but they must raise a minimum of $2,275 per refugee to "provide the initial support for the refugees during their first three months in the country," per a State Department official. Sponsors will face a screening process where they will have to provide a plan for receiving and supporting the refugees.
The measure can help settle far more displaced refugees than before and similar programs already exist in multiple countries including Canada, writes The New York Times. "We believe that by engaging more Americans in this effort, we will rebuild broad public support for the refugee resettlement program," said Julieta Valls Noyes, assistant secretary for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration.
The Welcome Corps hopes to mobilize 10,000 sponsors and help 5,000 refugees in its first year. "We hope it will become as widely known and engage as many Americans as the Peace Corps," continued Valls Noyes. "It's not about money. It's about commitment. It's about the community. It's about bringing people together and forming a group so that the refugees have more than one person that they can refer to and can work with."