Washington, D.C.— Yesterday, 52 organizations, higher education institutions, and foundations led by the Niskanen Center, Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, and Every Campus a Refuge sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Acting Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Cochran urging the agencies to incorporate college- and university-based sponsorship programs of refugee students and refugee families as part of any private sponsorship initiative established by the administration. Read the full letter HERE.

Matthew La Corte, Government Affairs Manager at the Niskanen Center, stated: “Empowering college and university campuses to directly resettle refugee students and families can supercharge the U.S. resettlement system. By bringing together students, faculty, and community members, this innovative policy solution expands social networks and increases financial resources made available to newly resettled refugees to ease their transition to the United States. This letter, signed by a diverse group of institutions and organizations, encourages the administration to capitalize on the vibrant campus communities across the United States that want to welcome refugee students and refugee families. Let’s give our campuses a larger role in refugee resettlement and infuse a new energy in our resettlement system.”

Dr. Diya Abdo, Founder and Director, Every Campus A Refuge, stated: “There are over 4,000 colleges and universities in the United States with campuses that are small cities unto themselves, making higher education institutions a powerful and untapped resource for refugee resettlement and integration.”

Miriam Feldblum, Executive Director, Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, stated: “As a daughter of a refugee and Holocaust survivor who was able to come to the United States to pursue his education, the transformative potential of higher education is very personal to me. My father later said that education saved him. Today, only three percent of college-eligible refugees access higher education globally. The Biden administration and U.S. higher education have the opportunity to make a tremendous difference in the lives of refugee students and families. Piloting university sponsorship of refugee students in the United States could be a crucial step toward providing safety and expanding access to higher education for refugee students.”

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The Niskanen Center works to advance an open society by active engagement in the war of ideas, direct engagement in the policymaking process, and through the courts with amicus briefs and pro bono representation. We develop policy proposals, mobilize other groups to support those proposals, promote those ideas to legislative and executive decision-makers, build short- and longer-term coalitions to facilitate joint action, establish strong working relationships with allied legislative- and executive-branch actors, and marshal the most convincing arguments and information in support of our agenda. 

The nonpartisan, nonprofit Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration brings college and university presidents and chancellors together on the immigration issues that impact higher education, our students, campuses, communities and nation. We work to advance just immigration policies and practices at the federal, state, and campus level that are consistent with our heritage as a ‘nation of immigrants’ and the academic values of equity and openness. The Alliance is composed of over 500 presidents and chancellors of public and private colleges and universities, enrolling over five million students in 43 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico. 

Every Campus A Refuge mobilizes college and university resources to host refugees on campus grounds and support them in their resettlement in the local area, providing newcomers with a softer landing and a stronger beginning. The flagship chapter at Guilford College has thus far hosted 60 refugees on its campus in Greensboro, NC. There are several other campuses who have adopted Every Campus A Refuge including Wake Forest University and Lafayette College.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels