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Idaho Governor Reassured By Feds On Refugee Vetting

Idaho Governor C.L. ''Butch'' Otter spoke at the AP Legislative Preview in Boise on Thursday.
Tom Banse
Northwest News Network
Idaho Governor C.L. ''Butch'' Otter spoke at the AP Legislative Preview in Boise on Thursday.

Idaho Governor Butch Otter said he has received reassurances from the federal government about the adequacy of vetting of refugees from the war-torn Middle East.

In November, Otter sent President Obama a fiery letter. It urged the U.S. to halt refugee resettlement until the background checks on foreigners were reviewed and possibly strengthened.

Otter said Thursday he subsequently met with multiple federal agencies including the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and immigration service.

“We are feeling -- if that information is correct -- we are feeling that they know more than we thought they knew at one time,” Otter said. “Now am I totally satisfied with that? Absolutely not.”

Otter said he remains opposed to resettling larger numbers of refugees than Idaho already takes in. Several citizens groups have formed in the Boise and Twin Falls areas and northern Idaho over the past year to support or oppose resettlement of refugees, especially Muslims.

In answer to reporter questions at the AP Legislative Preview, the governor and the Republican Speaker of the Idaho House both predicted refugee resettlement would be a minor or unaddressed issue during the upcoming session of the Idaho Legislature.

The issue has not appeared on the radars of the Oregon and Washington state legislatures either, which are also about to convene this winter.

Copyright 2016 Northwest News Network

Correspondent Tom Banse is an Olympia-based reporter with more than three decades of experience covering Washington and Oregon state government, public policy, business and breaking news stories. Most of his career was spent with public radio's Northwest News Network, but now in semi-retirement his work is appearing on other outlets.
Tom Banse
Tom Banse covers national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reports from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events are unfolding. Tom's stories can be found online and heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.