Examining the Impact of Community Sponsorship on Early Refugee Labor Market Outcomes in the United States
Emily Crane Linn
July 21, 2022
As the number of refugees in need of resettlement continues to climb worldwide, advocates and policy makers are searching for ways to leverage new support from private individuals, faith groups, and community organizations to complement and extend the capacity of traditional government resettlement programs. The United States is one of many countries considering the possibility of a “private sponsorship” model, which would allow private individuals and community groups to resettle refugees independent of traditional government resettlement agencies. While this particular resettlement model has not been implemented in the United States in more than four decades, the country has a long history of community involvement in refugee resettlement. Many resettlement agencies operate vibrant community sponsorship (or co-sponsorship) programs, in which community groups partner with resettlement agencies in delivering services and material support to refugees. However, due to a lack of publicly available data, the impact of this co-sponsorship model has been woefully understudied.
This paper offers a preliminary exploration of community sponsorship and its impact on early refugee labor market outcomes. Using administrative data from the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), this paper finds that:
- Refugees with community sponsors have higher English language enrollment rates 90 days after arrival than refugees without sponsors.
- Refugees with community sponsors who are enrolled in an early employment program known as Matching Grant have higher rates of employment and of full-time employment 180 days after arrival than those enrolled in Matching Grant who do not have sponsors.
- Community sponsorship is especially beneficial for refugees with low levels of English language proficiency and lack of family ties in their location of resettlement, as well as refugees resettling in areas with higher unemployment.
This paper also identifies and recommends several areas for further study, including:
- The variation of existing community sponsorship models in use across the United States and their impacts on refugee integration outcomes locally.
- The impact of community sponsorship on integration indicators, in addition to early labor market outcomes.