The Trump administration is trying to prevent 100 mostly Christian Iranians stranded in Vienna for more than a year from being deported back to Iran where they would undoubtedly face severe persecution amid a government crackdown on dissidents.
Human rights activists and U.S. government officials told the Washington Free BeaconTrump administration officials are trying to negotiate a resolution that would prevent Austria from deporting the 100 Iranians back to their home country where they warned they likely would be jailed and tortured for trying to emigrate to the United States.
The State Department is still denying the Iranians entry into the United States, even though the U.S. government invited them to spend their own funds—some their life savings—to come to the Vienna more than a year ago, the sources said. Many in the group are now living in shelters in Austria after running out of money for other accommodations during their yearlong layover there, according to the human rights activists.
The group of Iranians were seeking asylum in the U.S. under a 27-year-old law known as the Lautenberg amendment, which grants persecuted religious minorities in Iran and other countries special refugee status as persecuted religious minorities. While mostly Christians, the group of 100 in limbo in Vienna includes members of the Baha’i faith, who have faced arrest, torture, beatings, and other forms of sever punishment in Iran for decades.