Idaho Citizens And Politicos Weigh In On Donald Trump's Refugee Ban

Jan 30, 2017

More than 600 people held signs, chanted and demonstrated yesterday at the Boise Airport in opposition to President Donald Trump’s executive order banning refugees from entering the country.

“No hate. No Fear. Refugees are welcome here!” resounded through the concourse between the airport’s check-in counters and security area.

Standing amid those demonstrating in the terminal were a young couple:  Heather and Levi Kavener. She’s a medical assistant and he’s teacher. Despite the Gem State’s overwhelming support for President Trump in the November election, they believe a message needs to be sent to the president – even from conservative Idaho.

“I think it’s just important to stand in solidarity,” Levi says. “Even in a far-flung place like Idaho – to make sure that people know that we don’t agree with what he’s doing.”

The protestors lined the three-story atrium overlooking the baggage claim area. Another demonstrator, Hank Frazcek, held a sign declaring “My Parents Fled the Nazis.”

Hank Frazcek whose mother fled the Nazi invasion of Poland.
Credit Matt Guilhem / Boise State Public Radio

“My mother was a refugee from Poland when the Nazis invaded in 1939. She was able to come to this country,” he says.

Frazcek stood holding his poster board sign aloft with both hands.

“My father was in a military concentration camp until 45 – he had to flee the communist regime,” he says. “There has to be an out, and America is supposed to provide that. I have no right to say no to somebody who wants to come in and have a better life.”

Concern, worry and disgust with the administration are all present in Frazcek’s voice. In his view, the Trump administration has the seeds of a tyrant.

The rally at the airport grew quickly. Around 200 people were present in the first hour, but by mid-afternoon the crowd had swollen to more than 600. Even with such a large turnout, the event remained peaceful with no arrests.

Statements from some of Idaho’s top lawmakers regarding the president’s executive order trickled in following Sunday’s demonstration.

Republican Senator Jim Risch’s communications director said the senator would learn more about the action when he returns to DC.

Congressman Raul Labrador weighed in saying the media's portrayal of the order as a “ban on Muslims” is an intentional falsehood meant to undermine the president and mislead the public. Labrador says the order offers a lack of clear guidance on the policy. He says the administration could've done a better job of implementing it.

Governor Butch Otter called the order consistent with his position. He hopes President Trump adopts a requirement forcing consultation with governors before refugees are resettled in a state. Otter says the country has been too lax in enforcing immigration laws and setting admission standards for refugees.

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