The Biden administration on Monday announced a new initiative allowing private citizens to sponsor resettling Afghan refugees, "a move that could bolster a weakened U.S. resettlement system tested by thousands of recent arrivals," writes Roll Call.
Under the arrangement, groups of citizens can form what are called "sponsor circles" to help refugees with basic services and tasks traditionally handled by nonprofits — like securing housing, accessing governement benefits, and providing food and clothing — during their first 90 days in the U.S, per Roll Call. Local communities and organizations like Welcome.US, Airbnb, Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services, among others, will also assist in the program, notes ABC News.
"Americans of all walks of life have expressed strong interest in helping to welcome these individuals," wrote the State Department in its announcement. "The Sponsor Circle Program for Afghans harnesses this outpouring of support and enables individuals to become directly involved in the welcome and integration of our new neighbors."
Groups of at least five adults must apply together, and complete background checks, raise a minimum of $2,275 per refugee, pass a "knowledge check," and submit a robust "welcome plan" in order to become sponsors, explains ABC News according to Community Sponsorship Hub, the nonprofit in charge of vetting and training the sponsors.
"By offering opportunities to sponsor a family, this program will create enduring bonds between Afghans and the communities that welcome them," said Sarah Krause, executive director of the Community Sponsorship Hub.
The administration brought over 65,000 Afghan refugees to military bases nationwide following the U.S.' August withdrawal operation. Officials are planning for some 30,000 more arrivals in the next year, per ABC News.