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denying admission to Christian refugees

February 21st, 2018 | 1 min read

By Matthew Loftus

The U.S. recently denied asylum to about 100 Iranian Christians who had previously been invited to apply for refugee status, reports Mindy Belz at WORLD. Some, apparently, did not meet the security requirements. Sadly, while a lot of opposition to refugee resettlement is based on concerns about Muslims and terrorism, Christians are hit just as hard:

The group of Iranians currently in Vienna are seeking asylum under a 1990 law known as the Lautenberg Amendment, which grants persecuted religious minorities in Iran, Ukraine, and other former Soviet countries special refugee status. That amendment is subject to renewal each year by Congress as part of the budget process, and is in effect following renewal last May. Yet in spite of congressional approval, according to sources close to the process, for the past year the U.S. State Department has accepted no new Lautenberg cases for processing in Vienna. That development, coupled with apparent U.S. denials to all the 100 remaining applicants, may suggest the Trump administration is quietly shutting down a program currently authorized by Congress.

In the United States, refugee admissions for Christians have decreased overall by 63 percent under Trump—from 27,000 admitted the last year of the Obama administration to 15,700 in Trump’s first year in office. A steep decline in all refugee admissions left the total number admitted in 2017 at just 29,725 people—well below the 47,000 ceiling set by Trump, which was half the ceiling set in 2016 under former President Barack Obama.

It is hard to look at a case like this and feel like there is any rhyme or reason to this administration’s approach to refugee resettlement besides demanding less of it overall. What America gains by refusing entry to a few thousand people who cannot safely return to their homes  — many of whom are Christians and some of whom have been persecuted for their faith — eludes me.

Matthew Loftus

Matthew Loftus teaches and practices Family Medicine in Baltimore and East Africa. His work has been featured in Christianity Today, Comment, & First Things and he is a regular contributor for Christ and Pop Culture. You can learn more about his work and writing at