White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients hosted the leaders of major American companies to discuss refugee resettlement and sponsorship programs.
Thousands of refugees from both Ukraine and Afghanistan have arrived in the United States during President Joe Biden’s time in office.
The White House told Reuters the executives will meet with Zients and other members of the Biden administration to “discuss specific ways we can continue to work together to support safe, orderly pathways for people in need of safety to come to the United States, including through refugee resettlement and new, expanded humanitarian sponsorship programs.”
The attendees include Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Alphabet, Doug McMillion of Walmart, Albert Bourla or Pfizer, and Enrique Lores of HP – all of whom are part of Welcome.US’s CEO Council. The council aims to “discuss specific ways we can continue to work together to support safe, orderly pathways for people in need of safety to come to the United States, including through refugee resettlement and new, expanded humanitarian sponsorship programs,” per an April 2022 press release.
“Together, the Welcome.US CEO Council has pledged more than $75 million in new financial and in-kind donations, bringing the total contributions of Welcome.US private sector partners to more than $159 million to support Welcome.US, resettlement organizations and non-profits assisting Afghan and Ukrainian newcomers,” the organization stated.
“The launch of the Welcome.US CEO Council comes amid one of the largest refugee crises of this century, with over 4.5 million Ukrainians fleeing for safety across Europe—a number the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees expects will increase as the conflict continues,” Welcome.US added. “The United States recently announced that more than 100,000 Ukrainians will be allowed to seek refuge in the country, which follows more than 75,000 Afghan newcomers already being resettled in American communities—seven times the number of refugees resettled in the United States in 2020.”
The organization has previously worked with President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle, President George W. Bush and his wife Laura, President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary, and President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn – who have all served as co-chairs.
The Biden administration announced last September it aimed to admit 125,000 refugees during the 2023 fiscal year.
“This ambitious target demonstrates that the United States is committed to rebuilding and strengthening the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP), including by building capacity, modernizing and streamlining overall operations, and resolving long-delayed applications,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a press release. “A new private sponsorship pilot program will also expand opportunities for communities across the country to participate in welcoming the world’s most vulnerable to the United States, recognizing and building on the enormous outpouring of interest we have seen from the American public in supporting our newest neighbors.”
The USRAP has resettled over 3.5 million refugees across America since it was created in the 1980s.