January 28, 2017
City and state politicians joined demonstrators at Philadelphia International Airport Saturday night after two Syrian families were reportedly denied entry into the United States earlier in the day.
Mayor Jim Kenney said that he was "sickened" to find that they were sent on a flight back to Doha, Qatar by federal officials following an executive order signed by President Donald Trump that targets the Muslim community.
A protest at the airport is expected Sunday, but Councilperson At-Large Helen Gym took to Twitter Saturday night with an "urgent call to action" for demonstrators to join her at Terminal A to "stop the deportation of families there."
URGENT CALL TO ACTION: Families are being detained at PHL airport. **Gather at 7pm at Terminal A to demand their release.** Share widely.— Helen Gym (@HelenGymAtLarge) January 28, 2017
Mayor Jim Kenney joined Gym along with many demonstrators who are seen holding signs like, "let them in" and "Philly stands with immigrants."
In a tweet, Gym said that "several families and one Somalian immigrant are being detained at PHL airport tonight." A spokesperson for the airport has not returned a request for comment.
We are hearing that several families and one Somalian immigrant are being detained at PHL airport tonight. -HG— Helen Gym (@HelenGymAtLarge) January 29, 2017
Gov. Tom Wolf, Sen. Bob Casey and Rep. Bob Brady joined, too.
The two families reportedly denied entry Saturday morning were from Damascus. Sarah Assali, a 25-year-old relative of the six held at the airport told Philly.com that they had immigrant visas to enter the country.
Trump signed an executive order Friday that bans Syrians from entering the United States indefinitely and bars refugees from entering the country for 120 days. Immigrants from seven countries, including Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, are barred from entering for 90 days.
A federal judge granted an emergency stay for people who flew into the United States with a valid visa late Saturday night. The American Civil Liberties Union spearheaded the effort by filing a class action lawsuit to help an estimated 200 detainees.
Tonight, thanks to @ACLU and all of you, ban of refugees temporarily stopped. But this Executive Order is reprehensible & must be rescinded.— Jim Kenney (@PhillyMayor) January 29, 2017