Friday, April 27, 2018

Iranian Christians Denied Refugee Status Sue

A class action lawsuit was filed last week on behalf of 87 Christians, Mandaeans, and other persecuted religious minorities from Iran who (through family members in the United States) have applied for refugee status under the Vienna-based Lautenberg-Specter program. The refugee applicants are currently in Vienna. In February 2018 their refugee applications were denied en masse "as a matter of discretion."  The complaint (full text) in Doe v. Nielsen, (ND CA, filed 4/18/2018), contends that:
Defendants’ conduct violates the Administrative Procedure Act because the program changes that resulted in the mass denials constitute final agency actions that were unlawful, including because they were “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or not in accordance with law.”
The Lautenberg Amendment, originally enacted in 1989, made it easier for Jews and Christians from the former Soviet Union to gain admission to the United States as refugees.  In 2004, Congress enacted the Specter Amendment which  added Iranian religious minorities to those eligible for special protection under the Lautenberg Amendment. Since 2004, some 30,000 Iranian religious minorities have been resettled in the United States. Christian Post reports on the lawsuit.