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Opening of Uzbek’s terrorism trial prompts outreach to Idaho’s refugee community

As Fazliddin Kurbanov, an Uzbek who came to Boise as a refugee, goes to trial today on terrorism charges, U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson has been reaching out to the refugee community, refugee support agencies, the Muslim community, law enforcement and other groups in an effort to “build stronger, safer communities.” With the trial starting, Olson said her office wanted to reassure the refugee and Muslim communities that law enforcement officers will be vigilant to protect them against bias crimes. She also wanted to send a message that prosecution for illegal acts shouldn’t inspire retaliation against people for “how they appear, or how they worship or where they are from.”

She is working to form a coalition aimed at both preventing such bias, and engaging faith leaders, law enforcement and more in an effort to both guard against bias and work to prevent young people from becoming radicalized.  “There are many currents that seek to divide communities,” Olson said in a statement. “Instead, we have to come together.  We need to stand up and form strategies against those who espouse extremist ideologies and recruit others to engage in violent acts in our communities on their behalf.  We want to mentor our young people, educate parents, identify solutions, and form closer relationships between refugees and Idahoans who have been here for generations.” You can read her full statement here.

Meanwhile, Idaho Statesman reporter Bill Dentzer has a full report here on Idaho’s refugee resettlement program, which has brought 19,000 refugees from 50 countries to the state since 1980. Many refugees who’ve come to Idaho are success stories, he reports, building new lives and careers in their new home. But refugee resettlement also has drawn opposition, including a Twin Falls group that’s mobilized in opposition to a program that’s resettled refugees there since 1982.

Anne C. Richard, assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, told Dentzer that refugees undergo a 13-step background and clearance process that takes 18 to 24 months on average, making them “the most thoroughly vetted category of visitor to the U.S.” 

Community gardens help refugees connect to new land, new life

For several years, refugees have raised their own produce at community gardens in Boise; a Washington Post article today reports that it's a trend across the country that's helping refugees with agricultural backgrounds connect with their past and culture while they build new lives in the United States. Ruben Chandrasekar, executive director of the International Rescue Committee's Baltimore office, said, "On a small scale, it's giving people a little bit of an opportunity to grow food for their salad, but on a larger scale, it's an opportunity for people to grow and build a space with what they have." Click below for the full report from Washington Post reporter Tara Bahrampour.