Members of Syrian Family Deported at PHL Sue President Trump
Members of a Syrian family who were detained and deported by officials at the Philadelphia International Airport this past weekend have sued President Donald Trump, the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection.
Lawyers for the Asali family (spelled “Assali” by some family members), argue that Trump’s recent executive order on immigration – which suspends all refugee admission for 120 days, bars migrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries for 90 days and indefinitely forbids the admittance of Syrians – violates the First Amendment because it gives one religion preference over another. They also claim that the order disregards the equal protection guarantee of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.
In a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the lawyers request that the government reinstate the Asali’s visas – which the family first filed for 14 years ago – and arrange and pay for the family to come to the U.S. immediately. Six members of the Damascus-based family – with relatives in Allentown, Pennsylvania and a nephew who attends Temple University – were sent back to Doha, Qatar, where they fly in from on Saturday.
Several other immigrants from various countries were detained at the airport this weekend, but because a federal judge blocked Trump’s order on Saturday and the order specifically bars Syrians, all other detainees were released, with the exception of an Iranian woman who was also sent home on Saturday, according to the Inquirer.
More than 5,000 demonstrators protested Trump’s executive order at the Philadelphia International Airport on Sunday. At a press conference held at 11 a.m. in City Hall today, Mayor Jim Kenney continued to denounce Trump’s order alongside lawyers with the ACLU of Pennsylvania and relatives of the deported families.
Governor Tom Wolf has joined many Philly officials in criticizing the ban.
“The United States is set up to be a place where people can escape oppression,” Wolf said in a statement issued this past weekend. “This is not a place people come to experience oppression, and that’s what the Asali’s family members experienced.”
A number of lawsuits have surfaced across the country following Trump’s order. Yesterday, Washington became the first state to sue Trump over the ban.
A federal judge has not yet weighed in on the legality of the executive order.
Follow @ClaireSasko on Twitter.