Private Sponsorship of Refugees: Exploring a Government's Responsibility to Resettle

Authors: Brenna Foley*, University of Vermont, Pablo Bose, University of Vermont
Topics: Immigration/Transnationalism, Canada
Keywords: Refugee resettlement, Private sponsorship, Canada, Syrian refugees, Political geography, Immigration
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Empire Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Since 2015, the world has a seen a massive increase in the number of displaced people and with it a dramatic shift in global resettlement. Currently, 85% of the world’s refugees are hosted in developing countries (UNHCR 2018). As these countries face major challenges and transformations, Western nations have begun asking what a government’s role might be in resettlement. Canada, the first nation to develop a federally-run private sponsorship program, through which non-governmental organizations and citizens may sponsor a refugee for resettlement, has inspired other Commonwealth countries to adopt similar programs. While these programs allow for the resettlement of more refugees beyond traditional processes, they have also raised critical questions. Do these programs absolve a government of its moral responsibility to resettle refugees? Where does this moral responsibility stem from and what might it look like? This paper seeks to answer these questions. Under neoliberal regimes, where public services are becoming increasingly privatized, private sponsorship might lead to the privatization of resettlement and absolution of the government’s responsibility to provide resettlement assistance. Alternatively, private sponsorship has been shown to provide better pathways to integration and self-sufficiency for refugees. By exploring these concepts, we might be better prepared to understand private sponsorship models as they become increasingly popular.

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