Washington, DC, February 23– In Defense of Christians (IDC), the nation’s leading advocacy organization for Christians and religious minorities in the Middle East, calls on the Trump administration to accept the asylum requests of over 100 Christian and other religious minorities fleeing persecution in Iran. The refugees have been stranded in Austria for over a year while they awaited for approval to be resettled in the United States. Now, these mostly Christian refugees face deportation back to Iran, where they will surely suffer severe harassment, punishment, and imprisonment by the Islamic Republic for attempting to seek asylum in the United States.

On Friday, February 23rd, IDC’s Executive Director Philippe Nassif said that: “These persecuted minorities, who include elderly and disabled people, are not a threat to American national security and there is no excuse for why they should not be allowed to seek refuge in this country. The United States was founded to be a safe haven for those fleeing religious persecution, and helping religious minorities, in this particular case heavily persecuted by the Iranian regime, is in our national DNA.”

In a letter directed to the Vice President of the United States, Congressmen Randy Hultgren (R-IL) and James P. McGovern (D-MA), Co-Chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, urge his assistance in resolving the cases of roughly 100 Iranian refugees. In the letter, they iterate that: “The law is clear: these applicants should be presumed eligible for refugee status. DHS and the State Department should admit them as soon as possible, and if any applicants are denied, the agencies should explain the reasons for the denial.”

IDC calls for a expedited reconsideration of these cases and urges the administration to work towards a process which allows for religious minorities and others facing persecution, such as Christian and Yezidi genocide victims, to seek shelter in the United States.

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