By Karlene Neal, Advocate for Immigrants and Refugees, Board of Global Ministries
The State Department and the U.S. government are starting Welcome Corps, which is groups of ordinary citizens that will welcome refugees into their communities.
Each local group, made up of at least five Americans, will welcome and host refugee newcomers. They help in several ways: meeting the refugees at the airport, finding housing, employment, and furnishings, enrolling children in school, and finding essential local services. The group will raise funds to support each refugee family during their first three months in the country with needs such as apartment deposits and furniture.
The Welcome Corps is a new service opportunity for Americans to welcome refugees seeking freedom and safety and, in turn, make a difference in their own communities.
The process of resettlement is a two-part effort, including host volunteers and professional non-profit groups. Host volunteers will be residents who are members of faith and civic groups, veterans, diaspora communities, businesses, colleges, and universities, for example.
They will facilitate arrivals and expand the U.S. capacity to take in refugees. Non-profit groups will lead the resettlement efforts and provide support to the volunteers. These groups are part of a consortium of non-profit organizations that receive federal funding to lead, recruit, train, and support the volunteers.
The refugees will have already been approved for resettlement in the U.S. They could come from anywhere, but the majority of those who have been approved are from a few countries: Burma, Syria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Afghanistan.
Canada has a similar program that has been operative for several years and is very successful.
For more information, click here