County, governor support refugee resettlement in Idaho

The Associated Press//January 3, 2020

County, governor support refugee resettlement in Idaho

The Associated Press//January 3, 2020

TWIN FALLS, Idaho (AP) — Idaho became the latest state to signal its willingness to continue accepting refugees for resettlement despite a presidential order giving state and local governments the ability to refuse them.

Twin Falls County commissioners unanimously approved accepting refugees after hearing testimony from community members, business owners and church leaders in support of the College of Southern Idaho Refugee Center, The Times-News reported.

Republican Gov. Brad Little joined 30 other governors nationwide who have agreed to accept refugees, officials said.

“I support the decision of the county government on this matter,” Little wrote in a statement Monday to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The state and county actions were in response to the executive order signed by President Donald Trump in September requiring states and localities to express their willingness to allow refugee resettlement programs to operate.

Trump recently announced the U.S. would allow up to 18,000 refugees in 2020, the lowest cap since the Refugee Act of 1980, officials said.

Little signed a nearly identical letter Dec. 23 supporting a decision made by Ada County, which hosts the state’s two other refugee programs, officials said.

Last week, Twin Falls City Council approved support for the refugee resettlement program at the College of Southern Idaho, but administrators suggested the burden of consent was not theirs and asked the county to offer an opinion, officials said.

The county commission’s letter consents to refugee resettlement and spells out the county’s dissatisfaction with the “flawed procedure” for consent, officials said.

The refugee center is independent of the city and county and is funded primarily through federal grants, officials said.

State data shows 108 refugees resettled in Twin Falls in 2019, down from 280 in 2015. About 114 refugees are expected to resettle in the area in 2020, officials said.