Twin Falls Legislator Pushes Back Against Refugee Resettlement 

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Twin Falls Republican  Rep. Steve Hartgen told a public forum Tuesday he wasn't convinced resettling refugees from war-torn nations into his community was a good idea.

"To bring a group in here that has a substantial opposing perspective, to me raises some significant questions as to whether that's good public policy," Hartgen told the forum, according to this morning's Twin Falls Times-News. 

Hartgen joined fellow Republican Reps. Lance Clow (Twin Falls) and Clark Kauffman (Filer) and Democratic Rep. Donna Pence (Gooding) at a midday session with federal officials who explained to the lawmakers that a vetting process for a refugee traditionally takes up to two years and includes extensive background checks by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The Times-News reports that Hartgen "was the most vocal of the local officials," questioning "whether it's a good idea to bring a group of people to the Magic Valley when a substantial number of people are opposed to their coming."

Larry Bartlett, director of the U.S. State Department's Office on Refugee Admissions, pushed back, saying, "These people are not any different than some of our forefathers who came here escaping religious persecution."

Bartlett and other federal officials were in the Magic Valley Tuesday to participate in a Times-News public forum on refugee issues.

In August, opponents of the College of Southern Idaho's Refugee Center said they would push for defunding the center, going so far as to gather signatures for a ballot initiative.
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