- Rick Martin/Facebook
- Rick Martin, administrator and spokesman for The Committee to End the CSI Refugee Center Facebook page
Since the 1980s, the Refugee Center has aided approximately 5,000 refugees with resettlement, employment, English language classes and social services. That has rankled some community members, who have created a closed Facebook group, The Committee to End the CSI Refugee Center, pushing for CSI to divest itself of the program. It's led by activist Rick Martin, who told the Times-News that his main goal is to "bring about an informed electorate through programs of education and action."
The creation of the group comes after it was announced in April that 300 refugees who may come from war-torn Syria could be resettled in the Twin Falls area over the next year, and some in the community worry that could mean an influx of "radical Muslims." Martin told Reuters that the refugees, "who are predominantly of Muslim background, may be opening the door to terrorists pretending to be refugees."
"We're not against legitimate refugees," he told Reuters. "They need to be treated with dignity and respect. But it would be easy for someone to lie about their background."
The Committee to End the CSI Refugee Center submitted a request to CSI in June asking for the Refugee Center's R&P Abstract—a document submitted yearly to the federal government that outlines information deriving "independent economic value." CSI denied the Committee the document because it constitutes trade secrets. Martin described CSI's rationale "ludicrous."
According to the Times-News, Martin has been linked to a number of fictitious sample ballots in 2012, and March and May 2015, each containing misrepresentations. In 2012, Martin distributed sample ballots in which his name was listed but his opponent, Republican incumbent Castleford Precinct Committeeman Terry Kramer, was not. In Marcy, he distributed a flier labeled as a sample ballot that told voters that voting "yes" for a school bond in Buhl would harm the poor and elderly. In May, he distributed another flier labeled as a sample ballot urging voters against voting for a proposed recreation district in Buhl.
Now, the Committee is planning four meetings in July and is organizing to go door to door as part of an information campaign in Twin Falls-area neighborhoods.
Meanwhile, CSI Board Chairman Karl Kleinkopf has told the Times-News that he doesn't expect to see a future agenda item about the Refugee Center.