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Politics & Government

Idaho Anti-Refugee Initiative Dies After Failing To Gather Enough Signatures

Tom Banse
Northwest News Network
Ballot initiative leader Rick Martin asks for signatures for the anti-refugee initiative in December, 2015.

An initiative that would halt the refugee resettlement program in Twin Falls did not receive enough signatures to get on the ballot in November.

Supporters of the measure needed nearly 4,000 signatures to put it on the ballot in Twin Falls County. According to the recorder’s office, fewer than one thousand signatures were turned in by Monday's 5:00 p.m. deadline.

Rick Martin has led the effort. He takes responsibility for not meeting the signature standard. But he says the ballot initiative did succeed in mobilizing people concerned about the College of Southern Idaho’s refugee resettlement program.

“Our local issue is that we have way too many refugees," says Martin, "local people can’t even afford entry-level rents for housing [and] apartments. It’s got our college off-track.”

Martin says the economic issues aren’t going away, and so he will next turn his attention to getting new trustees elected at the College of Southern Idaho. He hopes to help elect trustees willing to halt the school’s resettlement program.

The college’s longtime refugee resettlement program came under scrutiny last year over fears of radicalized Muslims potentially being sent to Twin Falls. Martin says there’s no way to be sure refugees from Middle Eastern countries like Syria haven’t been radicalized.

In January, U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson said refugees coming to Idaho are not a big security threat.

Find Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill

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