When the U.S. government is overwhelmed, it has a grassroots resource: Americans.
Around 80,000 Afghans fled to the United States when the Taliban regained control in 2021. Understaffed government resettlement agencies became flooded with refugee needs.
The U.S. State Department turned to its citizens. Humanitarian organizations and the government worked together to create “sponsor circles.” Neighbors, faith groups, and friends pooled resources.
Sponsor circles found refugees rental homes, helped enroll their children in schools, and coached them on local banking options. They guided refugees on job opportunities, shopping, and places of worship.
Mohammad Walizada fled Afghanistan with his family. He was connected to a sponsor circle in New Hampshire. Within five days, the Walizadas moved into a furnished home in Epping. A car and 10 months’ worth of rent payments were an added boost.
Imagine living in a country where you face persecution for your race, religion, social status, or political opinions. Imagine living in a war zone where bombs and crossfire are a daily danger. Where would you go?
The global number of people who have had to flee their homes passed 100 million in 2022. The U.S. Refugee Admissions Program is teaming up with non-profit resettlement agencies to help.
Resettlement agencies try to reunite refugees with family or friends they already have in the United States. Those without such connections are placed in areas where communities and job options fit their needs.
Last year, the Biden administration started Uniting for Ukraine. It gives Ukrainian refugees a two-year “parole” period if they have an American financial sponsor. The Department of Homeland Security supervises the program. It received more than 117,000 applications.
God urges His people to welcome foreigners: “Treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 19:34)
Hundreds of American teams have helped resettle Ukrainians, including one in Casper, Wyoming. Wyoming is the only state that has never had an official refugee resettlement program before.
Darren Adwalpalker is pastor at Highland Park Community Church in Casper. His team received support from Samaritan’s Purse to sponsor three Ukrainians. With $3,000 in hand, Pastor Adwalpalker provided a Ukrainian who stayed in Casper an apartment for six months. Almost all other needs like grocery store gift cards and furniture were donated.
The Biden administration is working to ensure a private-sponsorship program will assist refugees long-term.
Why? God wants us to be gracious to refugees and immigrants. Naomi and Boaz showed kindness to Ruth, a Moabite immigrant widow escaping famine. The Lord built her into the lineage of Jesus.