TWIN FALLS • A majority of Idahoans are against taking in refugees from Syria, according to the latest poll from Idaho Politics Weekly released Monday.
Overall, 60 percent of of the 603 people polled between Nov. 18 and Nov. 28 are against letting Syrian refugees into Idaho, 36 percent are in favor and 3 percent don’t know.
Republicans are the most strongly in favor of keeping Syrians out by 75-23, while independents support keeping them out 57-42. Sixty-nine percent of the Democrats polled, though, favor taking in Syrian refugees, with 28 percent opposed.
The poll also found a large majority — 70 percent — of Idahoans agree with Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s recent letter to President Barack Obama calling on him to halt refugee resettlement until concerns about it can be addressed. Views on this divided along similar political lines, with Republicans and independents agreeing with Otter 89-8 and 66-29, respectively, and Democrats disagreeing with him 62-33.
Self-identified Christians favor keeping Syrian refugees out, with Protestants the most strongly opposed to letting refugees in at 70-29, followed by Mormons at 63-32 and Catholics at 57-41. Respondents who said they aren’t religious favored letting Syrian refugees in by 53-45.
The College of Southern Idaho has run a refugee resettlement program for about 30 years. The center became controversial in Twin Falls after news came out this spring that some Syrians could be among the refugees to be resettled here this year, and opponents of the center are gathering signatures for a ballot initiative to ban refugee centers in Twin Falls County.
The issue has risen to the top of the political debate nationally and internationally, including in the U.S. presidential race, as the refugee crisis caused by the Syrian civil war has gotten worse and as more refugees have been trying to get into Europe. After the Paris terrorist attacks, Otter joined more than 20 other mostly Republican governors and many congressional Republicans — including the entire Idaho delegation — in calling for a halt to refugee resettlement while the program can be reviewed. A bill to tighten up screening for Syrian and Iraqi refugees passed the House last month but has stalled in the Senate. The Senate plans to take up refugee resettlement in early 2016, the Washington Post reported last week.
The poll was conducted by the Salt Lake City firm Dan Jones and Associates and has a 4 percent margin of error.