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.


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).


Teachings of Christ

“Whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:33 ESV)

Lenten Prayer of St. Ephrem

O Lord and Master of my life, drive away from me the spirit of despondency, carelessness, love of power, and idle chatter. (Prostration)

Rather grant to me, Your servant, the spirit of wholeness of being, humility, patience, and love. (Prostration)

Yes, O Lord and King, grant that I may see my own faults and not condemn my brother; for You are blessed to the ages of ages. Amen. (Prostration)

Random Proverb

"Take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her." (Proverbs 8:10,11 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

According to the text, `We are the body of Christ and each of us is one of its members' (cf. 1 Cor. 12:27), we are said to be the body of Christ. We do not become this body through the loss of our own bodies; nor again because Christ's Body passes into us hypostatically or is divided into members; but rather because we conform to the likeness of the Lord's flesh by shaking off the corruption of sin. For just as Christ in His manhood was sinless by nature both in flesh and in soul, so we too who believe in Him, and have clothed ourselves in Him through the Spirit, can be without sin to Him if we so choose.

St. Maximus the Confessor, Second Century on Theology, Philokalia, V. 2