PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - Attorneys representing three families whose relatives were turned away at Philadelphia International Airport this weekend filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration on Tuesday.
They allege the president's executive order is unconstitutional.
Tuesday's legal action is expected to heighten tensions between the White House and immigration activists, in a battle that may well end up settled by the highest court in the land.
The federal lawsuit accuses the Trump administration of violating the constitution when it rebuffed families coming to Philadelphia from countries on a shortlist of suspected terror hotspots.
At a City Hall news conference, family members who were left waiting at Philly International spoke of the pain of playing by the rules, only to see loved ones turned around and sent home, with no explanation, and not even a translator to explain what was happening.
"We just want to tell that this is extremely unfair and inhuman, to stop a mother from seeing her daughters, after years. And treating her like a criminal," Shadi Darani explained.
"This is the country of opportunity, the country of freedom. And if we allow it to turn into a land of discrimination, where racism has taken root and hate is found across the whole country, it's a thought that gives me chills," Joseph Assali added.
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly is among those being sued. He defended the immigration crackdown as temporary and necessary.
The attorneys behind that federal lawsuit hope to have their case heard within the next few days.
They want the families in question to be allowed to return to the U.S., and this time, at the government's expense.