Capitol & State

Idaho’s Congressional delegation weighs in on refugees

Idaho’s Congressional delegation joined Gov. Butch Otter Monday in a call to suspend bringing Syrian refugees into Idaho through the refugee resettlement program without assurance of better security.

Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch and Reps. Mike Simpson and Raul Labrador all supported the suspension, citing concerns over vetting procedures. Risch, who serves on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said a recent classified briefing on the vetting process left him with “serious reservations about the effectiveness and the guarantees currently in place” for screening Syrian refugees.

Refugees undergo an 18-24 month vetting process that includes security checks conducted by agencies including the CIA, FBI and Department of Homeland Security. The exact processes involved are classified, which helps fuel criticism and concern about their efficacy.

In the 12 months ending Sept. 30, Idaho received 935 refugees, according to State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration. Of those, 35 came from Syria. National numbers are below. Overall, the U.S. received 69,933 refugees in the year ending Sept. 30. Since October, Idaho has received 66 refugees, none from Syria. There are three organizations that assist with refugee resettlement in Boise and one in Twin Falls.

Gov. Otter was among 25 Republican governors and one Democrat Monday who called for a halt to Syrian refugee relocation. States, however, cannot block refugees who have been legally admitted to the U.S. from residing there.

You can look up refugee data here.