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Idaho legislators vote to require refugee stats be reported to state, local authorities

Courtesy Idaho Office for Refugees
Opponents of the bill say the Idaho Office for Refugees already provides demographic information.

The bill seeks info about refugees' age, gender and nation of origin.

The Idaho House has approved a bill that requires refugee agencies to report to state and local governments certain information about people they resettle in the Gem State.

Rep. Sage Dixon (R-Ponderay) says he wants local and state officials to be aware of new residents that come to live in their jurisdictions.

“Many of us get questions when there are an influx of refugees coming in and some of those questions and concerns are valid. This will help answer some of those questions," he said.

Dixon’s bill would require resettlement agencies to report the age, sex and nation of origin for each refugee that comes to live in Idaho. He says it does not require the reporting of names or other personal information.

“There’s not a registry of individuals," Dixon said. "This is NGOs reporting these basic facts to these government entities. So it’s not something you can say, ‘Oh, so-and-so lives here, so we’re going to go and try to out them in some sense. It’s not an effort at all of xenophobia or to try and call out those folks who are coming into our country, into our state. It’s information.”

Opponents, such as Rep. Lauren Necochea (D-Boise), are suspicious. They think the rule is meant to single out people for unwanted attention.

“I don’t understand what problem this bill is trying to solve. You can go to, the Idaho Office of Refugees’ website, and you can see numbers and stats about refugees who have been resettled in Idaho.”

Others, such as Boise Democrat John Gannon, say the bill will lead to unequal treatment to foreign newcomers.

“There are other people who come to this state and they don’t have to register. They don’t have to tell anybody they’re even here," he said.

The House approved the refugee reporting bill by a 50-18 vote. It now moves to the Senate.

One of the Northwest's most seasoned reporters is returning to his SPR roots. Doug Nadvornick will be heard frequently on KPBX and KSFC reporting on local news.