Since the federal government launched its Uniting for Ukraine program at the end of April, more than 45,000 Americans have applied to sponsor refugees fleeing the former Soviet nation, CBS reports.
According to data from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) obtained by the news outlet, 27,000 Ukrainians have been selected and approved under the program, and 6,500 have already arrived in the U.S.
Americans wishing to host Ukrainian refugees must undergo background checks and financially commit to supporting the Ukrainians they sponsor, according to DHS.
Ukrainians approved for the program can only stay for a maximum of two years, and will not be given standard refugee status, which offers a pathway to permanent residency.
"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.
In April, the White House announced that the U.S. was planning to welcome 100,000 Ukrainians and DHS estimates that the country is on track to reach half that number within the next three months.
According to CBS News, Uniting for Ukraine could end up becoming the largest official private refugee sponsorship program in the United States in decades.
The program has allowed the Biden administration to bypass the traditional refugee system by enlisting average Americans and groups to directly finance the resettlement of Ukrainian refugees, according to DHS.
"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.
Citing DHS statistics, the news outlet reports that roughly 7,300, or 15%, of the Americans who have filed requests to sponsor Ukrainians live in the New York metropolitan area. The other regions with the most potential sponsors are Chicago, Seattle, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Miami, Washington, Sacramento, Portland and Cleveland.
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