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Iranian Christian Asylum Seekers Are Still Stranded

Dozens of Iranian Christians and other religious minorities remain stranded in Vienna by the Trump administration’s refusal to grant them asylum earlier this year. Earlier this month, there was some progress in fighting the administration’s decision

A federal court ruled Tuesday [July 10] that the Trump administration wrongly denied asylum to dozens of Iranian Christians and other religious minorities who were invited to seek asylum in the United States under a congressionally enacted program.

Judge Beth Labson Freeman of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ruled that the Trump administration violated the Lautenberg Amendment by rejecting resettlement for a group of about 87 Iranian religious minorities who were invited to leave their homes and travel to Vienna, Austria, to be processed for resettlement into the United States to live with their families and worship without fear of persecution.

The court ruling is good news for the asylum seekers, and it gives the administration another reason to reconsider and reverse its terrible decision to deny the applications of all of these people. There is no good reason not to give asylum to these people. The U.S. should be willing to accept those fleeing persecution, and every day that these people are still stranded in Austria by this administration is a disgrace.

Tomorrow Secretary Pompeo is delivering a speech at the Reagan Library to promote the administration’s destructive Iran policy. One of the things he is expected to talk about is Iran’s record of religious persecution. At the same time that Pompeo will be denouncing persecution in Iran, there will still be almost 100 religious minorities stuck in limbo after they were denied the asylum in the U.S. that they had every reason to expect would be granted to them. The Trump administration is happy to exploit the abuses of the Iranian regime for its own talking points, but it has thus far shown no intention of helping those Iranians that are fleeing persecution. The very least that the administration can do is let these Iranian Christians and other minorities come to the U.S. after they have been stuck for more than a year with no place to go.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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