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”).
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.)