January: Fazliddin Kurbanov — a refugee from Uzbekistan living in Boise — is sentenced to 25 years in prison. Authorities say Kurbanov instructed people how to create bombs to target transportation systems and other public places.
January: Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter tells journalists at the Associated Press’ legislative preview he doesn’t expect any legislation about refugee resettlement. But there could be pushback, he says, if President Obama’s administration increases the number of Syrian refugees being let into the country.
January: The Idaho Republican Party’s central committee passes a resolution asking the state Legislature to stop Idaho’s refugee resettlement and disbursement of funding for refugee benefits until economic costs are analyzed and national security concerns put to rest.
January: Few lawmakers attend a speech at the Idaho Capitol by controversial anti-Islam pastor Shahram Hadian, who warns states must protect their citizens from Muslim extremists because the federal government will not. Protesters gather in the Capitol hallways, some carrying signs welcoming refugees.
January: Refugee resettlement is a topic during a Twin Falls County Sheriff’s debate pitting Sheriff Tom Carter against candidate Cliff Katona, a retired Idaho State Police detective. Katona says he would make sure refugees feel welcome, but they must abide by American laws. During his 24 years in ISP, he says, he never investigated a refugee for a crime. Carter says he supports the governor’s call to fix a broken vetting system but said refugees are more likely to be victims of a crime.
January: A resolution honoring the 130th anniversary of the unveiling of the Statue of Liberty is introduced in the state’s House State Affairs Committee. The resolution’s sponsor, Rep. Hy Kloc, D-Boise, was born in a refugee camp in Germany after World War II, and his parents were Holocaust survivors from Poland. The resolution passes the House and Senate and in mid-March is delivered to the Secretary of State.
February: State legislators hold off on a resolution praising Azerbaijan for its “ancient traditions of interfaith tolerance, inclusion and positive multiculturalism” after lobbying by members of the Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region. Liyah Babayan of Twin Falls, an Armenian Christian refugee from Azerbaijan, meets with the House State Affairs Committee to share her stories of persecution.
February: Twin Falls City Council votes unanimously to appoint a liaison to the Magic Valley Refugee Advocates, a local grassroots group. City Council members don’t offer support for the group’s efforts but agree to an exchange of information. It’s the city’s first time to engage in the heated debate over refugee resettlement.
February: Twin Falls High School Principal Dan Vogt blocks a story students prepared about perceptions toward local immigrants for an edition of the Bruin News. Some students and parents raised concerns about a survey created by a student journalist asking for student opinions about Muslims and Islamophobia in the U.S.
March: State legislators consider a bill banning foreign law in Idaho. Sponsor Rep. Eric Redman, R-Spirit Lake, gives committee members a packet of information on the dangers of Sharia law, including a picture of a severed hand. The bill doesn’t make it to the full House or Senate.
March: U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador — an Idaho Republican — sponsors legislation to give Congress more control over the number of refugees coming into the country and let communities that don’t want refugee resettlement reject them. It would cap the number of refugees to be allowed into the U.S. at 60,000 per year and bar the president from raising the ceiling without congressional approval.
March: In response to the Idaho controversy, 11 students from the University of Idaho spend spring break volunteering for the College of Southern Idaho’s Refugee Center.
March: Mormon women are given a special assignment during The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ general conference: to be part of a refugee relief effort called “I Was a Stranger.”
April: A petition for a ballot measure to ban refugee centers in Twin Falls County falls almost 3,000 signatures short of what’s needed to get onto the May ballot. At the deadline, the petition has 894 signatures. It needed 3,842.
April: The first Syrian refugee family arrives in the U.S. — Kansas City, Mo. — under President Obama’s surge operation to resettle 10,000 Syrians by Sept. 1. So far, about 1,000 have come since October.
April: German officials — plus business professionals and volunteers — visit Boise for two days to gain insights into how the city handles refugee resettlement.
April: President Obama visits Germany and says the U.S. and Europe must welcome incoming refugees. He announces plans to send as many as 250 more U.S. troops to Syria — bringing the total up to 300.