No Place Like Home: 20 Refugees Will Become Citizens at Boise's World Refugee Day 

Twenty people who once called Bhutan, Burma, Congo, Eritrea, Iraq, Rwanda or Somalia home share two similarities despite their vastly different backgrounds: they’re refugees resettled in Boise, and they’re poised to become U.S. citizens on Saturday, June 23, during the World Refugee Day celebration in Grove Plaza.

“It’s this really profound moment where they have to actively choose to become members of this society here in America. They pledge their loyalty to this country and they become American citizens,” said Kara Fink, Idaho Office for Refugees outreach and partnership manager. “It’s really bittersweet, because it’s hard that they are giving up the nationality that they have grown up with and that was their home, but it really shows how dedicated they are to being Americans and being part of their new home here.”

click to enlarge HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
Fink recalled a similar citizenship ceremony in the past as a prime example of that dedication.

“There was a woman who was due to have her baby and she went into labor in Grove Plaza before her citizenship ceremony and they were able to swear her in before taking her off to the hospital behind the stage, because it was that important to her to become a new citizen and to become an American,” Fink said.

Immigration advocates say President Donald Trump’s refugee policies, which have cut refugee admission into the U.S. to the lowest point in recent memory, make it increasingly difficult for people to find refuge in the United States. In addition, Fink said there's been an increase in fear and misinformation regarding refugees.

“World Refugee Day and events like this are opportunities to learn about our newest neighbors and to learn about the plight of refugees worldwide, and then also honor their journey and honor the many beautiful talents and things they are bringing with them here to Boise,” Fink said. “It’s even more important than ever that we break down those stereotypes and meet people as they are.”

click to enlarge HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
The World Refugee Celebration, which includes live performances by refugees and vendors selling ethnic food, runs from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The highlight will be the citizenship ceremony at 11 a.m.

Additionally, there will be a soccer friendly at Ann Morrison Park from 12:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. with four teams of refugees competing. A free youth soccer clinic will kick off the festivities at 1 p.m., lead by guest coaches from the Boise State women’s soccer team.

“I just think this year it’s more important than ever that we go out and meet these folks,” Fink said.
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