Frank Church Conference Focuses Lens on Refugee Crisis in the Era of Trump 

click to enlarge frank_church.jpg
President Donald Trump's name doesn't appear on the agenda for the 34th annual Frank Church Conference, titled "America's Future: Refugees, Migration and National Security," but discussion of Trump's restrictions on refugees and immigrants took center stage Monday at the filled-to-capacity Simplot Ballroom at the Boise State University Student Union.

"The new so-called 'presidential determination' from the Trump administration puts a ceiling on no more than 45,000 refugees into the U.S. during the next fiscal year," said Jennifer Sime, Senior Vice President for the International Rescue Committee. "Compare that to 1980 when the U.S. welcomed 207,000 refugees. And since 1980, the average number of refugees into the U.S. has been 95,000."

Mohammed Abubakr, president of the African Middle Eastern Leadership Project, shook his head and deconstructed the new Trump edict into simple terms.

"When you think about this new ceiling from the Trump administration, you're thinking about how many people get to live," said Abubakr. "And that's a very disturbing thought. It says a lot about humanity in how we choose to treat other people."

click to enlarge Ann C. Richard - COURTESYANNERICHARD
  • CourtesyAnneRichard
  • Ann C. Richard
The Frank Church conference was packed with panel discussions and addresses from a number of experts on the issue of refugees, both national and local, including representation from the Idaho office of Refugees, the Idaho chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and the Boise office of the International Rescue Committee. The conference's midday address was delivered by Anne C. Richard, former Assistant Secretary of State.

"I'm particularly concerned about the current plight of refugee children. If there is nowhere for them to go, boys and girls are sent off to work instead of sent to school. Girls are married off way too young, and some of them end up in prostitution," said Richard. "We are sowing the seeds of misery for years to come."

In her conclusion, Richard offered a question instead of a statement.

"What are you going to do about this?" Richard asked the gathering. "Will you vote? Will you write a letter to the editor? Will you visit your member of Congress? Will you stay abreast of current events? I put it to you."
click to enlarge Anne C. Richard was the keynote speaker at the 2017 Frank Church Conference. - GEORGE PRENTICE
  • George Prentice
  • Anne C. Richard was the keynote speaker at the 2017 Frank Church Conference.

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