Providing a safe haven and a new home for people fleeing war, violence, and persecution is one of America’s noblest traditions, dating back to the founding of our nation.
And throughout our history, our country has benefitted from the energy, ingenuity, and hard work of refugees.
American communities have long been at the heart of welcoming refugees, whether they were escaping the horrors of World War II, the repression of autocrats, or persecution because of who they were or what they believed.
We witnessed this over the last year, as Americans of all ages and backgrounds – and in every U.S. state – stepped up to help resettle thousands of Afghans, Ukrainians, and Venezuelans.
Building on this proud tradition, the State Department is launching the Welcome Corps, a private sponsorship program that will harness the generosity and goodwill of American citizens to resettle refugees.
For over four decades, our system has relied primarily on resettlement agencies to do this work.
Under this new initiative, people in communities, faith-based organizations, colleges and universities, veterans’ associations, and other groups will be able to play that role – taking the lead in helping refugees do things like find a place to live, enroll kids in school, and obtain basic goods like furniture and winter clothes.
Private sponsorship is a big responsibility, but the reality is that American communities have been crucial partners in this work for some time.
And the most important thing Americans need to succeed as sponsors is something they already have: knowledge of their community.
Like how to catch a bus to the local library… where to buy groceries… the best park to spend a Sunday afternoon.
They won’t do it alone, either: Throughout the process, private sponsors will be able to rely on resettlement experts for guidance and support.
The Welcome Corps will allow Americans to do what we do best: Be guides and friends to our new neighbors, and put them on the path to realizing their full potential – to the benefit not just of refugee families, but all our families.
As someone whose own relatives came to the United States in search of safety and freedom, I know what a difference a real welcome can make.
And not only in the lives of the people who flee, but for their children, grandchildren, and generations to come.
It’s one of the reasons so many members of my family, including me, have chosen the path of public service. I’m confident that if you join the Welcome Corps, you won’t just change the lives of the refugees you help, but also your own.
For more information on how you can be part of this effort, please visit www.welcomecorps.org.
And thank you.