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February 05, 2017

ACLU: Syrian family denied entry at PHL set to return to U.S. Monday morning

A Syrian family that was denied entry into the United States when their flight landed at Philadelphia International Airport last week are set to return to the country Monday morning.

The Asalis were barred from entering the U.S. after arriving Jan. 28 but are expected to land in John F. Kennedy Airport at 9:25 Monday, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of PennsylvaniaAs of Sunday night, the family has passed through preclearance in Abu Dhabi, NBC10 reported

The Asalis were sent back to Doha, Qatar and then Damascus a day after President Donald Trump signed an executive order that limited immigrants and refugees from entering the nation.

The travel ban prohibited Syrians from coming into the U.S. indefinitely and refugees from entering for 120 days. Immigrants from seven countries – including Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen – from entering for 90 days.

A federal judge issued a temporary halt to the ban Friday. The Trump administration appealed the judge's order, though a federal appeals court did not grant the immediate reinstatement of the ban. 

Public interest lawyers, that included representation from the ACLU of Pennsylvania, filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Asalis. 

“The executive order is illegal, and its implementation was botched from the start," Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, said in a statement. "The ACLU will continue to challenge this order until it is ultimately overturned."

Basam and Hassan Asali, along with spouses Jozfin and Jurfeet and Hassan's two kids will join Basam and Hassan's brother, Ghassan Assali, in Allentown upon arrival Monday morning. Ghassan is a naturalized citizen.

The spelling of the family's last name is different because of "the Arabic-to-English translation of their name during the naturalization process," according to the ACLU of Pennsylvania.

“Our family would like to take this opportunity to extend our most gracious thanks for all of the love and support that we have received during this difficult and uncertain time,” said Sarmad Assali, Ghassan Assali’s spouse in a statement. “Words cannot express our gratitude.”