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How one refugee family made it to LA after years stuck in Vienna

Lilia Tarverdi, left, cooks at home in Tujunga while her brother Argisht, right, holds one of her young children. Argisht, his older brother and their parents recently arrived as refugees from Iran after waiting nearly three years in Vienna.
Lilia Tarverdi, left, cooks at home in Tujunga while her brother Argisht, right, holds one of her young children. Argisht, his older brother and their parents recently arrived as refugees from Iran after waiting nearly three years in Vienna.
Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

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A year ago, 87 Iranian refugees bound for the United States who’d been waiting in Austria since 2016 were stranded there indefinitely, after the U.S. denied their applications. They had been waiting to come to the U.S. through a program for religious minorities since before the January 2017 travel ban. Last month, following a court order, about a dozen of them were admitted into the country.

They included a family of four that's now settled in Los Angeles. With no permission to work in Austria, they exhausted their life savings and depended on charity to survive. Their story is another illustration of the personal cost of U.S. government immigration decisions.