The Latest: How Philly’s Reacting to Trump’s Immigration Ban

More than 5,000 people gathered at the Philadelphia International Airport yesterday to denounce the ban, which was blocked by a federal judge on Saturday.

immigration ban

Rachel Brock of Abington Township, Pa. holds up a sign during a protest of President Donald Trump’s executive action barring individuals from certain Muslim majority countries from entering the United States, Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, at Philadelphia International Airport in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Corey Perrine)

Between 5,000 and 6,000 people gathered at the Philadelphia International Airport yesterday to protest President Donald Trump‘s executive order to limit travel for refugees and migrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries. 

The order, which Trump signed into effect late Friday afternoon, was blocked by a federal judge on Saturday night. The ban forbids Syrian refugees from entering the country, suspends all other refugee admission for 120 days and denies entry to civilians from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days – even if those citizens have visas.

Two Christian families from Syria who were living in Allentown – and reportedly equipped with visas and green cards – were detained at the airport before being sent back to Doha, Qatar on Saturday morning, according to the Inquirer. Several other migrants from various countries were detained this weekend, but the U.S. Attorney’s Office claims that everyone has been released as of Sunday.

On both Saturday and Sunday, Philly was one of several airports around the country where protestors assembled, including the Kennedy International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport.

Mayor Jim Kenney and Gov. Tom Wolf joined protestors at the PHL airport. On Sunday, Gov. Wolf apologized to those who were detained, saying the ban had led to “a dark day for all of us.”

“As a Pennsylvanian and as an American, this is not who we are,” Wolf said during a press conference yesterday. “Pennsylvania is a place of welcome – not a place of oppression.”

Ghassan Assali, a brother of the Syrian migrants who were forced to return home on Saturday, told reporters that the ban “is not American. This is more like ISIS. ISIS asks, ‘Are you Christian? What do you believe?’ America asks, ‘Are you Muslim?’”

Politicians like City Councilwoman Helen Gym, Rep. Dwight Evans, Rep. Bob Brady, and Sen. Bob Casey joined the protests this weekend and called for the release of those who were detained.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro is leading an effort of at least 17 attorney generals across the country to denounce Trump’s executive order.

At least two Republican lawmakers from Pennsylvania – Rep. Charlie Dent and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick –  have also denounced the ban.

“The president’s policy entirely misses the mark,” Fitzpatrick said in a statement issued on Sunday, according to the Inquirer. “We were focused on solutions, not engaging in partisan attacks or declaring a singular fix to a complicated issue.”

Leaders of local universities – like Temple University, Drexel University, the University of Pennsylvania Penn State University – have spoken out against the ban and issued travel warnings to foreign students.

Follow @ClaireSasko on Twitter.