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Idaho Refugee Program Faces Opposition From Activist Group

TWIN FALLS, Idaho — Conservative activists are calling for the College of Southern Idaho to remove its refugee program following concerns over the influx of Syrian refugees expected to arrive in south-central Idaho later this fall.

The Times-News reports that the group formed after college officials announced in April that 300 refugees were expected to resettle in Idaho at the start of the new federal fiscal year. Many of the refugees will possibly come from Syria, leading some community members to speculate they could be radical Muslims.

“This program is giving the college a bad rap,” said Rick Martin, who leads the group called the Committee to End the CSI Refugee Center. “Let someone else take it over.”

Martin has asked CSI board members twice to consider phasing out the refugee program before the end of the federal fiscal year, which ends in the fall.

Martin added that group members plan on going door-to-door throughout Twin Falls to encourage people to oppose the refugee program being housed inside the community college.

“Things are going on that the public needs to know about,” he said.

Just how many refugees come to Idaho and from which countries will be decided by the federal government. However, resettlement officials have maintained that all incoming refugees undergo extensive background checks.

The community college’s Refugee Center has resettled roughly 5,000 people since the 1980s.


College board members have stood by the program. Chairman Karl Kleinkopf says he won’t rule out the board considering phasing out the program, but doubts that it will become a future agenda item.

This isn’t the only group that has sprung up in light of the influx of upcoming refugees. Earlier this month, Twin Falls accountant and former Democratic state treasurer candidate Deborah Silver formed a group to support the refugee center. Members volunteer at the center and help educate the community about the resettlement process.

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