As families continue to endure separation after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, a less visible group of refugees has been abandoned by the Trump Administration with little recourse and dimming hope. In early 2018, approximately 100 Iranian refugees were denied resettlement to the U.S., stranding them in Vienna, Austria, where they had been awaiting final approvals through the U.S. Resettlement Program for over a year. Their denial was made “as a matter of discretion.” They have exhausted their savings and now have no clear path forward. President Trump’s policies have made these refugees’ already precarious lives even more so.
The massive influx of Afghan refugees to Iran started in 1979 when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. Until 1992, Iran was exemplary in welcoming refugees. It granted 3-4 million Afghans work permits, free education and subsidized healthcare. Afghans could stay in Iran indefinitely. In 1992 Iran stopped granting permanent residence rights to Afghans, even though in the subsequent years, civil war and the reign of the Taliban have caused an increase in involuntary migration.
Since 2004 Iran has undertaken different measures to curb and decrease the number of refugees.