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Iranian Christians Seeking Asylum Should Be Allowed to Come

The New York Timesreports on the 100 Iranian Christians and other religious minorities who were denied asylum by the Trump administration earlier this year:

They sold their homes and possessions, quit their jobs, and left their country — they thought for good. The Iranians, mainly members of their nation’s Christian minorities, were bound for a new life in America after what should have been a brief sojourn in Austria for visa processing.

But more than a year later, some 100 of them remain stranded in Vienna, their savings drained, their lives in limbo and the promise of America dead.

Even as the Trump administration continued to pledge help to religious minorities in the Middle East, many of whom face persecution, the United States denied their applications for refugee status in recent weeks.

There is no good reason why these people have been turned away, and it is deplorable that they are being shunned at such a late stage in the process. Persecuted religious minorities should be welcome in the U.S. when they request asylum, and our government certainly shouldn’t pull the rug out from underneath people when they have been encouraged to come and have nowhere else to go. It would be especially dangerous for these people to return to Iran now, but unless some other government steps up and does what the U.S. should have already done that is where they will have to go.

Most of the Iranians that the Trump administration has left stranded in Vienna have been sponsored by their relatives here in the U.S.:

The Iranians applied to resettle in the United States under guidelines set by a 1989 law known as the Lautenberg Amendment, which offers safe haven to persecuted religious minorities. In the group are ethnic Armenian and Assyrian Christians, Mandeans, and Zoroastrians, most of whom have relatives in the United States who sponsored them.

It makes no sense to reject their request for asylum. These people were already vetted before traveling to Vienna, and they have been waiting a very long time for their applications to be processed. Denying their request for asylum after all this time is cruel and inexcusable. The Trump administration should reverse its decision at once.

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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