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Fifty-one different organizations and higher education institutions sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Acting Secretary of Health and Human Services Norris Cochran Tuesday asking them to incorporate college and university-based sponsorship programs in their plans for expanding the capacity of the United States Refugee Admissions Program.

President Biden issued an executive order Feb. 4 instructing the two agencies to develop plans for enhancing the program's capacity “to welcome refugees by expanding the use of community sponsorship and co-sponsorship models by refugee resettlement agencies, and by entering into new public-private partnerships.”

The letter on higher education, which was organized by the Niskanen Center, Every Campus a Refuge and the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, calls on the agencies to explore programs through which colleges directly sponsor refugee students continuing their educations, as well as programs in which they partner with local resettlement agencies to sponsor refugee families on or near a campus.

“Harnessing campuses’ immense potential is also a logical first step towards building successful refugee sponsorship pilot programs that can grow over time,” says the letter. “University campuses have cultural, linguistic, healthcare, and professional resources to assist refugees during their transition to the United States. College campuses are also ideally located geographically: most colleges and universities are in mid-sized or large cities with adequate transportation and healthcare infrastructure, employment opportunities, and access to local refugee resettlement agencies.”