In Twin Falls, Idaho last night, US State Department official: we don’t force refugees on communities that don’t want them

Correction!  Bartlett didn’t say we don’t place refugees in unwelcoming communities, he said “unsafe” ones implying that those who are critical of the program might actually hurt the refugees—what a slap in the face!

Regular readers know that we have been closely following the controversy that has been brewing for months about the refugee resettlement program on-going in the Magic Valley of Idaho.  See our post last week where we outlined a public meeting format that would be fair to all sides in the controversy (so it wouldn’t appear as a “dog and pony show”).

Bartlett: We don’t resettle refugees into communities that don’t want them.

Initial reports are that it was surprise! a “dog and pony show,” and that the Times-News refused to use any of the suggestions coming from the citizens in opposition that might have helped community members feel confident that the meeting was a fair one.

In fact, according to a leader of those who are questioning the program, Rick Martin, the public meeting might well be characterized as a meeting one would expect in “communist Cuba.”

We are anxiously waiting for a video tape of the entire meeting and will have more for you then.

However, here are a few nuggets to satisfy your curiosity in addition to the astounding statement reportedly made at the end of the nearly 3-hour meeting by Lawrence Bartlett representing the US State Department—we don’t send refugees to communities not willing to welcome them.  (We will get the exact wording from the video taped recording).

From a first hand account:

  • The meeting was delayed because the line to get in stretched for about a mile and everyone was subjected to screening by a metal-detector and some were frisked.
  • Those in favor of more refugees being resettled in Twin Falls brought in van and car loads of people from outside of town (presumably from Boise).  Some of those were refugees themselves (we have previously mentioned that ploy to play on public sympathy by using refugees as pawns at such meetings).
  • About 725 people were in attendance.
  • A New York Times reporter was there, so look for news from the NYT.
  • Disgusted with the biased way in which the moderator asked questions, about ten in the audience walked out after about 45 minutes. One man shouted, “this is propaganda.”
  • Opposition leaders were happy with the opportunity to distribute their informational handouts.
  • There was much discussion about the national security fears of residents.
  • Questions about the health status of refugees and whether any presented serious medical threats to the community were not satisfactorily answered.
  • Opposition leaders say only about four of the fifty or so questions they submitted were asked and then the question was paraphrased (spun!) by the moderator.   By the way, we had recommended that the paper should not have allowed its editor to moderate the meeting because of previously demonstrated bias, but the paper refused to replace him with a retired judge.

Much more later when we have had an opportunity to view the entire videotape of the meeting.

Oh, and I nearly forgot, you can read the Times-News account of the “forum,” here.   (They don’t like RRW to excerpt their material, presumably so you will go and see their advertisers.)

All of our previous coverage of the Twin Falls controversy and the growing Pocket of Resistance’ there can be found by clicking here.

14 thoughts on “In Twin Falls, Idaho last night, US State Department official: we don’t force refugees on communities that don’t want them

  1. “In Twin Falls, Idaho last night, US State Department official: ‘we don’t force refugees on communities that don’t want them…'”

    Sounds to me like more of “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” BS!


  2. The phrase we got was they did not want to resettle refugees in communities that are “hostile.” The inappropriateness of the word was pointed out by one of the local attendees. Maybe State has reconsidered the whole “hostile” thing and softened it to “unwelcoming.” Richard used that word too while here, but “hostile” remains indicative of the attitude State intended to convey, but was used on the wrong audience.

    Hostile or unwelcoming, they gave us little advance notice they were coming, refused to hold a Town Hall meeting and used the strategy of meeting separately with groups, so all anyone knew about what was said or asked in other meetings was what State told us. By the time we heard from others what went on in their meeting, State was long gone. Of course, they told us everybody else was onboard, though they did acknowledge there was some concern within the community and they were there to clear up the misunderstandings. Uh huh. Then, they continued on their merry way, but not without changing the usual order of how the program works. We have our very own World Relief office now here and one in a neighboring county to work directly though, instead of the local office first set up, which is still resettling, but the changes disrupt the normal procedure and apparently is intended to technically alter the process enough to avoid the shoes being thrown into their machinery. This is pretty new, so we’re still looking at what advantage this gives them or what it allows them to dodge.

    In the meantime, our neighboring counties are NOT happy either that they have been obligated without their consent. Oh no, they are not happy at all and they shouldn’t be.

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  3. Stop. Pass on the questionnaire on that site. I dutifully went to the Magic Valley article thinking let’s make them happy in Magic Valley. As soon as I read that all is redacted until you do their survey questions I knew I had to let you know what happened the time I did one of those. It was an Aspen, Colorado local paper, the Aspen Times which has been published for-like-ever. I ended up in the Apple store with a tech cleaning up something or other that was gumming up the functionality in my Mac. As soon as he described to me where these thingys are often found I knew right away what site it came from. You are warned. Be careful and cautious when you see something like it. And it’s not your provider or browser or modem or wifi if things get weird, it’s your hard drive. Hope I’ve saved you time and a headache and stress!

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