More than 45K have signed up to sponsor Ukrainian refugees in US: report

More than 45,000 Americans have applied to sponsor Ukrainian refugees since the U.S. launched its Uniting for Ukraine program in late April, according to a new CBS News report.

6,500 Ukrainians already have arrived under the program and 27,000 have been selected and approved to travel to the U.S., according to data from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) obtained by the news organization.

DHS confirmed the report in a response to The Hill.

This week marks 100 days since Russia invaded Ukraine. It’s unclear how many casualties the war has claimed.

The Biden administration announced in April that the U.S. was planning to welcome 100,000 Ukrainians fleeing Russian aggression.

It ultimately could become the largest official private sponsorship program for refugees in the U.S. in decades, according to CBS News.

Under the program, sponsors have to undergo background checks and financially commit to supporting the Ukrainian refugees they welcome. Ukrainians approved under the Uniting for Ukraine program will not enter the U.S. with standard refugee status, which offers a path to permanent residency, and instead can stay only up to two years.

“I think this is a great case study for what is possible when the United States government gives the option for individuals and community groups to step forward and directly resettle refugees,” Matthew La Corte, an immigration policy analyst at the Niskanen Center, told CBS News.

The U.S. is on track to reach half of the 100,000 Ukrainian refugees Biden vowed to welcome within the next three months, DHS estimates.

According to the agency, the Uniting for Ukraine program has allowed the Biden administration to bypass the traditional refugee system by bringing in American volunteers and groups to directly finance the resettlement of displaced Ukrainians.

“This will build on lessons learned from the U.S. government’s efforts over the past year to stand up tailored private sponsorship initiatives to enable Americans to play a leading role in welcoming newly arrived Afghans and Ukrainians,” an unnamed State Department spokesperson told CBS News.