Local family speaks out after loved ones are detained at PHL

- Customs officials turned away refugees from targeted countries including the loves ones of a local family. 

It was a result of an executive order President Trump signed that he believes will keep Americans safe. 
 
A feast was ready for a family celebration but left uneaten in Allentown. Sarwad Assali had cooked for her family that was turned away at Philadelphia International Airport Saturday morning. 
 
The family, Syrian Christians with legal immigration visas, was sent back hours after landing on U.S. soil. 
 
The incident comes after President Trump's order suspending immigration from several majority Muslim nations including the Assali's war torn Homeland. 
 
The Assalis immigrated to the U.S. decades ago and built a happy life in Allentown. It's the same American dream they wanted to share with Ghassan Assali's two brothers, their wives and two children. 
 
Ghassan was already at the airport waiting to reunite with his family and bring them to the home he'd purchased to get them on their feet.
 
Federal officials then told him his brothers--at that point separated from him by just the walls of the airport--would be sent back almost immediately.
 
He was blindsided. He says the family is Christian and went through years of legal immigration proceedings before obtaining valid visas.
 
Ghassan has been raising his brother's son, injured by a bomb as a schoolboy. Tawfik has not seen his parents or siblings in three years.
 
"They are in war," said Tawfik. "There is war over there. You don't know when you die. It was the only way to help them. To get them out of there."
 
The family is still holding on to hope. Republican Congressman Charlie Dent reached out to the White House calling the executive order too broad and asking for it to be suspended while officials work out details.
 
Dent says he agrees with Trump that the vetting process for asylum seekers should be made stronger but he says the Assalis don't fall in that category.
 
"We're not talking about refugees but people who are trying to come through the front door legally," said Congressman Dent.
 
"They came to America. They put their foot in America," Tawfik said. 
 
A dream his family could see and almost touch, but held just beyond their grasp.

 

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