President Donald Trump presented himself as a defender of Christians. However, his administration recently rejected asylum applications from more than a hundred Iranian Christians. They desperately need sanctuary: the Islamic Republic is among the world’s worst religious persecutors. Does the president dislike foreigners more than he likes Christians?
The Iranians, including other non-Muslims and residents of other nations, have been stuck in Vienna for more than a year hoping to resettle in America. They applied under the Lautenberg Amendment, which originally was passed to protect Soviet Jews. Over the years roughly thirty-three thousand Iranian religious minorities have entered the United States under its protection. Almost 1,300 were admitted under the program last year. Approval of applicants, who are interviewed before traveling to Vienna, where U.S. officials screen them, was standard. According to Foreign Policy’s Dan de Luce: “Apart from Assyrian and Armenian Christians in Iran, members of the Jewish, Mandaean, Zoroastrian, and Bahai communities have also received refugee status and resettled in the United States under the law.”
But not this time. The Department of Homeland Security just told them no. The law requires the government to justify any denial “to the maximum extent possible,” but DHS offered no explanation. The State Department reported the obvious: program changes had resulted in “a greater number of denials in the Vienna refugee program,” like 100 percent. The question remains why.
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