The White House announced last week that it is launching a “Call to Action” asking private businesses to help with the resettlement of refugees. This could be done without regard to the government cap of 85,000 total refugees, including 10,000 Syrian refugees, in 2016.
Fifteen founding corporations have teamed up with the Obama administration on the effort. These are: Accenture, Airbnb, Chobani, Coursera, Goldman Sachs, Google, HP, IBM, JPMorgan Chase & Co., LinkedIn, Microsoft, Mastercard, UPS, TripAdvisor, and Western Union. The Call to Action initiative is not only to help refugees in the United States, but all over the world.
In Europe for example, Mastercard “worked with Mercy Corps to distribute prepaid debit cards to eligible refugees traveling through Serbia. Approximately $75,000 was distributed to nearly 400 families and individuals.” The three main facets of this private partnership program are: “education,” “employment,” and “enablement.” Education includes “facilitating refugee children and young adults’ education by ensuring that refugee students can access schools of all levels.” The employment facet includes “increasing employment opportunities for refugees.”
Through those two parts of the initiative refugees can be settled in the United States without limit as they wouldn’t fall under the purview of the government cap on refugee resettlement. Through work and education visas refugees would not actually be considered as refugees for their immigration status. One of the companies already partnered with the Obama administration, Chobani, currently has a work force in the United States that is roughly 30 percent resettled refugees. A White House fact sheet states 66 percent of refugees are of working age.
Outside of employment and education, under the “enablement” part of the initiative, the White House mentions that companies can help refugees get access to financial services, technology, housing and transport. This also includes “covering costs of charter flight to bring resettled refugees to the United States (or to another country of resettlement).”
“These refugees will be coming outside the refugee resettlement program so they would not be counted under the government cap of 10,000. These ‘alternative legal pathways or sponsorships’ will be under employment visas, training, student visas and scholarships, visiting scholars etc,” Nayla Rush, senior researcher at the Center for Immigration Studies, told The Daily Caller.
Rush added, “remember, the aim is to bring as many Syrian refugees as possible. 10,000 is the limit this [Fiscal Year] under the refugee resettlement program. No limit to these ‘private sponsorships’, more importantly, to traceability.”
At a United Nations summit on September 20, Obama is going to push for “double the number of resettlement slots and alternative legal pathways for admission that are available to refugees, and increase the number of countries accepting significant numbers of refugees.”
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