- Harrison Berry
- Demonstrators at a rally in support of refugee resettlement.
"[It's a] timely issue with the new administration's policies on immigration and DACA, and the public's questions about the role of refugees both nationally and in the State of Idaho," said Frank Church Institute Director Garry Wenske.
The theme of the conference at the Simplot Ballroom of the Student Union Building at Boise State University, is "America's Future: Refugees, Migration and National Security." Speakers will include former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Anne C. Richard, and International Rescue Committee Senior Vice President Jennifer Sime, as well as Jacob Sullivan, who served as national security advisor to Vice President Joe Biden and deputy chief of staff for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
There will also be speakers from local chapters of organizations \suche International Rescue Committee and ACLU-Idaho, as well as a panel of experts and refugees, including Refik Sadikovic, a Bosnian refugee who resettled in Boise and is now working toward his Ph. D. at Boise State University.
Idaho, especially the southern half of the state, has a long and significant history of accepting displaced people. According to a Pew study, Idaho accepts among the most refugees per capita of any state in the country. The Idaho role in resettlement, however, has been controversial. The College of Southern Idaho Refugee Center was criticized for its role in bringing refugees into Idaho amid fears of an influx of Syrians and fake news surrounding a crime connected with refugees in Twin Falls brought the issue to a boil.
Wenske said he expects to fill the ballroom, and hopes the audience can walk away with a “better understanding of some of the issues that we’re facing as a country, as a state, and as a city.”
“Boise is a welcoming city for refugees,” he said. “These are important issues we need to discuss.”