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

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:27-30 ESV)

Holy Forefathers

Through faith, O Christ, you justified the Forefathers, * betrothing through them in advance the Church of the gentiles. * The Saints exult in glory, * for from their seed came forth a glorious fruit: * she who gave birth to You without seed. * Through their prayers, O Christ God, have mercy on us. (Troparion, Tone 2)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

You did not honor a hand-depicted image, O thrice-blessed ones, * but defended by the undepicted Being you were glorified in a trial by fire. * And, standing in the midst of unbearable flame, you called upon God: * “Hasten, O Compassionate One, and speed to our help, * for You are merciful and You can do whatever you will.” (Kontakion, Tone 6)

(Second Sunday Before Christmas)

Saint Nicholas of Myra

The truth of your deeds has revealed you to your flock, * as a rule of faith, an image of meekness, and a teacher of abstinence. * Therefore, you attained the heights through humility, * and riches through poverty. * O Father and Hierarch Nicholas, * pray to Christ God that our souls may be saved. (Troparion, Tone 4)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

In Myra, You were shown to be a servant of the sacred things, O Holy Nicholas, * for, fulfilling the Gospel of Christ, you, O Venerable, laid down your life for your people, * and saved the innocent from death. * Therefore, you were sanctified as a great initiate of the grace of God. (Kontakion, Tone 3)

Random Proverb

"My son, be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding, that you may keep discretion, and your lips may guard knowledge." (Proverbs 5:1,2 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

No one has to be embarrassed over his sinful state. ‘There is no man who, while living, does not sin,’ and the more sinful the man, the stronger will be God’s help in leading him out of his sinful mire. But the help of God comes only when the sinner repents with heartfelt contrition and has the will to reform. Not seeing in himself enough strength of soul to break away from sinful deeds, he asks for God’s help. This is where the mercy of God, Who does not wish the death of the sinner but wants him to be converted and live, is often evident.… If the voice of conscience awakens in us a feeling of remorse or repentance, then we must pray fervently to the Guardian Angel of our human existence that he may keep us from corrupt downfalls and help us ‘serve God with fear and trembling.’

Elder Macarius of Optina