Immigration Law

Trump Administration Makes Disturbing About-Face on Religious Minority Refugees from Iran

Miriam Jordan, New York Times, Mar. 1, 2018 - "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. “It’s unexplainable,” said H. Avakian, 35, an ethnic Armenian Christian who arrived in Austria from Iran 15 months ago and asked that his first name be withheld out of fear for his safety. “Suddenly they said, ‘Now you can’t come.’ We don’t know why.” Mr. Avakian, who hoped to join his brother, Andre, in Los Angeles, said in a phone interview that he and other refugees were running out of money and descending into depression. “Most of us cannot go back to Iran; we’re in complete despair,” he said. ... Refugee arrivals have slowed to a trickle since President Trump, who took office vowing to overhaul immigration, cut the number of people that the United States agreed to admit. But Mr. Trump also promised to protect religious minorities, particularly Christians, and his administration has condemned Iran’s treatment of them."