DENVER — Katie Taintor is the Vice President of Policy and Practice at Welcome.us. She is helping spearhead the new government program, Welcome Corps, that the State Department considers the largest innovation in refugee settlement in 40 years.
Q: What exactly is Welcome Corps?
A: It allows people like you and me to privately sponsor a newcomer into our communities. What private sponsorship offers is the opportunity for a group of 5 individuals wherever they are in the United States, whether you're in Denver, Alamosa or Grand Junction, you can raise your hand and welcome a group straight to your community.
Q: What do those 5 sponsors do?
A: What this does is it sort of puts you in the center of the action. So it allows you and a group of 4 other individuals to be at the airport when the family arrives. To help them find their new housing, to help them find their new jobs. But you do this alongside the family, you do this alongside the sponsor group and not necessarily through a resettlement agency. A good way to think about sponsorship is the bridge. The bridge from somebody’s life overseas in their home country or in another country they fled to, and their life here in the United States.
Q: How do people sign up to be a sponsor?
A: Groups of 5 will need to submit a welcome plan that outlines the types of support that they can supply. They will need to raise $2,275 per newcomer that is to arrive.
Q: How is this different from sponsor circles for Afghanistan evacuees?
A: That was what we could consider a pilot for what we have today which is Welcome Corps. The big difference is that the Welcome Corps sponsors will respond to conflict...across the globe. So maybe welcoming refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and really being that bridge to safety between the refugee camp and a new community here in the United States that offers them a different set of opportunities for them and their families.
Q: What kinds of sponsorship does the U.S. currently have or has had?
A: We had limited forms of sponsorship programs so some sponsorship programs were limited to family members, or maybe they were really limited in time. But really what we are seeing now over the past year is us really leaning into the idea of sponsorship as being a way to welcome newcomers safely, securely, orderly into the United States.
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