The Welcome Corps: A ‘Private’ Refugee Program Funded by Taxpayers

Parsing Immigration Policy, Episode 91

By Mark Krikorian and Nayla Rush on February 9, 2023

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Listen to "The Welcome Corps: A ‘Private’ Refugee Program Funded by Taxpayers" on Spreaker.


The State Department recently launched the Welcome Corps, billed as a “private” refugee sponsorship program modeled on last year’s arrangement for Ukrainians paroled into the U.S. The program permits a group of five or more private citizens in the United States, including legal permanent residents, to take over the roles of the State Department, the UN, and government-funded contractors in selecting and resettling refugees.

Nayla Rush, a senior researcher at the Center and guest on Parsing Immigration Policy, said, “The ostensible goal of the refugee resettlement program is to bring the most at-risk, vulnerable refugees to the United States. My concern is how refugees brought in through the Welcome Corps are going to be selected. Citizens and even conditional green card holders can sponsor and even identify the refugee to be brought to the United States, automatically qualifying for benefits and then citizenship in five years.”

The program is being pitched as the “private” sponsorship of refugees. But that label hides the fact that taxpayer money is still central. Activist groups, often funded by the government, may well hijack the program by recruiting individuals to sign sponsorship documents; the organizations can control, select, and fund these “private” sponsorships. In addition to taxpayer funding at the front end of this “private” program, refugees are eligible for a variety of resettlement benefits in the first year, and after the first three months can be signed up for welfare.

In his closing commentary, Mark Krikorian, the Center’s executive director and host of Parsing Immigration Policy, highlights a recent Center report that provides recommendations for improving the Biden administration’s “Strategic Plan” for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the federal agency charged with administering the nation’s legal immigration system. The Center’s suggestions focus on serving the interests of both American citizens and applicants for immigration benefits.


Mark Krikorian is the Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies.


Nayla Rush is a Senior Researcher at the Center for Immigration Studies


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Intro Montage

Voices in the opening montage:

  • Sen. Barack Obama at a 2005 press conference.
  • Sen. John McCain in a 2010 election ad.
  • President Lyndon Johnson, upon signing the 1965 Immigration Act.
  • Booker T. Washington, reading in 1908 from his 1895 Atlanta Exposition speech.
  • Laraine Newman as a "Conehead" on SNL in 1977.
  • Hillary Clinton in a 2003 radio interview.
  • Cesar Chavez in a 1974 interview.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaking to reporters in 2019.
  • Prof. George Borjas in a 2016 C-SPAN appearance.
  • Sen. Jeff Sessions in 2008 comments on the Senate floor.
  • Charlton Heston in "Planet of the Apes".
Topics: Refugees