BOISE — Update:
Idaho will continue accepting refugees. According to the Idaho Statesman, Governor Brad Little signed off on the request of two Idaho counties that were seeking consent for refugee resettlement.
Earlier this year, President Donald Trump issued an executive order allowing states and localities to choose whether to continue accepting refugees. In a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Ada County officials asked consent for refugee resettlement.
Since then, Little gave their request the nod of approval in his own letter, according to the Statesman.
"I have to say it was really not a controversial decision and we have a lot of things going on at the county, ya know, a lot of tough decisions to make, but this was not one we spent a lot of time on, quite frankly," said Diana Lachiondo, Ada County Commissioner.
Ada County's been a resettlement community for decades -- one that's opened its arms to both refugees and immigrants for generations.
"My family came from the Basque country," said Lachiondo. "My grandfather came here as a 16-year-old, with no English. We are considered a model, nationally and internationally, on how to help refugees integrate and thrive, and so, all three commissioners signed on. So it was pretty quick and pretty easy."
By definition, a refugee is someone who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster. Refugees are only allowed in to the United States after a lengthy process with the UN Refugee Agency.
"Usually more than two years to be eligible for refugee status -- and so these are legal immigrants who are coming to our community," said Lachiondo.
Lachiondo said it's people like Anselme Sadiki who inspire her stance on this.
"Oh my gosh he has an incredible life story," said Lachiondo.
Sadiki is a refugee who came to Idaho 25 years ago from Kenya amid conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He says he is proud of the governor's decision.
"It makes me have faith again in humanity," said Sadiki.
Sadiki is also the executive director of Children's Home Society, a nonprofit in Boise that gives children in need access to mental and behavioral health services.
"When I came here, and when I realized the second chance that I'd been given... I made sure that everything I did was actually to make this state proud, so it was important for me to succeed," said Sadiki.
"He has given back to this community in a thousand different ways. And we're really lucky to have him," said Lachiondo.
In the meantime, Lachiondo says she looks forward to more refugees being a "huge asset" to Ada County.
This local support comes against a backdrop of tension on a national level when it comes to refugees. In September, President Trump announced a plan to cut the number of refugees allowed to enter the US to an all-time low of 18,000.
In the future, that number may go down in Idaho as well, since Julianne Donnelly Tzul, the executive director of the Idaho Rescue Committee told 6 On Your Side that at one point, 1,300 refugees were welcomed to Udaho in a year. She said that more recently, though, that number dropped to a "little over 550 in a year."
To learn more about Sadiki's inspiring story and local nonprofit work, click here.
IDAHO STATESMAN: Idaho will continue accepting refugees under the requirements of a new executive order from the White House, after Idaho Gov. Brad Little sent two letters supporting Ada and Twin Falls counties’ request for refugee resettlement.
“I support the decision of county government on this matter,” Little wrote in a Dec. 23 letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “As the Governor of Idaho, I consent to the requirements set forth in Executive Order 13888 for Ada County, Idaho.”
Earlier this year, President Donald Trump issued an executive order allowing states and localities to chose whether to continue accepting refugees for resettlement. At the same time, the president slashed 2020 refugee admissions to a historic low of 18,000.
Twin Falls and Boise will continue longstanding refugee resettlement programs after officials in their counties provided official consent this month, according to a report Monday in the Twin Falls Times-News newspaper.
Ada County unanimously supported refugee resettlement in its own letter to Pompeo, Commissioner Diana Lachiondo told the Statesman on Tuesday. She said it couldn’t have been a “more uncontroversial” decision.
“On the one hand, this is a non-issue,” Lachiondo said. “On the other hand, it’s really important to me personally that we continue to be a welcoming community.”
The Twin Falls City Council also unanimously approved support for the program, the Times-News reported.
Little joined more than 30 other governors who have approved refugee resettlement in consenting cities and counties. The deadline to respond under the new executive order is Jan. 21. Little sent letters to Pompeo supporting the two Idaho counties’ decisions on Dec. 23 and Dec. 30, according to spokeswoman Marissa Morrison.