February 23, 2018

USCIRF Concerned by Denial of Lautenberg Refugees from Iran

These refugees face the imminent danger of return to Iran, where the already dire situation for religious minorities is steadily deteriorating,said USCIRF Chairman Daniel Mark

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is concerned by recent reports that roughly 100 members of Iranian religious minorities, who sought resettlement to the United States, have been denied asylum and could be returned to Iran where they may face discrimination and persecution.

The refugees, most of whom are reported to be Assyrian or Armenian Christians, were seeking refuge in the United States under the Lautenberg Amendment. The Lautenberg Amendment, enacted in 1990, was expanded in 2004 to allow members of Iranian religious minorities, including Christians, Zoroastrians, Baha’is, and others, to apply for refugee status under a special category in recognition of their status as persecuted minorities.

“National security must remain a priority for all U.S. government policies,” commented Chairman Daniel Mark. “Yet we also must make timely security assessments in keeping with the intent of the Lautenberg Amendment. These refugees face the imminent danger of return to Iran, where the already dire situation for religious minorities is steadily deteriorating.”

Typically, Lautenberg Amendment processing takes only a few months and has a high rate of approval for admission into the United States. This group of Iranian religious minorities has waited in Vienna for over a year, despite reportedly being vetted before being invited to Vienna, as is common practice for refugees under the Lautenberg Amendment.

“Recent public statements by the administration regarding the plight of religious minorities in the Middle East as well as President Trump’s national security strategy evince a clear commitment to the protection of religious freedom as a U.S. foreign policy priority, and few policies embody this commitment more than the Lautenberg Amendment,” continued Chairman Mark.

USCIRF repeatedly has recommended that the Lautenberg Amendment be renewed in order to offer protection to Iranian religious minorities like Christians and Baha’is who face persecution, discrimination, or harassment at the hands of the Iranian government. Since 1999, the State Department has designated Iran as a “country of particular concern” for engaging in systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.

For more information, see USCIRF’s 2017 annual report chapter on Iran.

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The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission, the first of its kind in the world. USCIRF reviews the facts and circumstances of religious freedom violations abroad and makes policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress. USCIRF Commissioners are appointed by the President and the Congressional leadership of both political parties. To interview a Commissioner, please contact USCIRF at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Isaac Six, Associate Director of Congressional Affairs (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. +1-202-786-0606).

http://www.uscirf.gov/news-room/press-releases/uscirf-concerned-denial-lautenberg-refugees-iran


Teachings of Christ

“The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45 ESV)

Holy Angels

O Supreme Leaders of the heavenly armies, * we, who are unworthy, ever beseech you, * that through your prayers you may surround us * with the shelter of the wings of your immaterial glory, * watching over us who fervently fall down and cry out: * “Deliver us from perils, * for you are the commanders of the Powers on high!” (Troparion - Tone 4)

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Random Proverb

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Wisdom from the Church Fathers

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St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ