One Year After Refugee Executive Order, New Higher Education Pathway Poised to Help Biden Administration Deliver on Stated Commitment


February 4, 2022
Contact: Jose Magaña-Salgado (

Washington, D.C.—On February 4, 2021, President Biden issued Executive Order 14013, focused on rebuilding U.S. refugee resettlement. Among the policies embraced was a commitment to create new private refugee sponsorship programs. In response, the Presidents’ Alliance and allies mobilized in support of a new higher education pathway for refugee sponsorship, sending a letter from 52 organizations and institutions that urged the Departments of State and Health and Human Services to incorporate college- and university-based sponsorship programs as part of any private sponsorship initiative. U.S. colleges and universities are well-suited for such a pilot program and to meet a growing global need: fewer than one percent of refugees worldwide are resettled each year and only five percent eventually access higher education

Over the past year, there have been important steps forward toward realizing the goal of a new higher education pathway: 

Now, we await the next steps from the Biden Administration, including the policy infrastructure and official word from the State Department to begin implementing private higher education sponsorship of refugee students. 

Notably, the Biden administration has provided positive feedback to the concept. For example, Sarah Cross, the Deputy Assistant Secretary in the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, stated at the launch of the RESPONSE campaign and accompanying report, “we think the pilot program presents an exciting opportunity to support the establishment of a new education pathway in the form of a University Sponsorship Program for refugee students.”

 Miriam Feldblum, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, stated: “College and university private sponsorship of refugee students is a tremendous opportunity for the Biden administration to fulfill its stated commitments; for higher education institutions to advance their mission, enrich their campuses, and meet a global need; and for refugee students to better access higher education and resettlement in the U.S. This is the moment to build on the successes of the past year and put these exciting ideas into action.”



The nonpartisan, nonprofit Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration brings college and university presidents and chancellors together on the immigration issues that impact higher education, our students, campuses, communities and nation. We work to advance just immigration policies and practices at the federal, state, and campus level that are consistent with our heritage as a ‘nation of immigrants’ and the academic values of equity and openness. The Alliance is composed of over 500 presidents and chancellors of public and private colleges and universities, enrolling over five million students in 43 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico.