Visas in order, Syrian Christian family turned back at Philly airport.A Christian family of two brothers, along with their children and wives were deported from Philadelphia after a long and arduous journey. They fled Syria by crossing the border into Lebanon and after waiting for a period of 15 years, boarded a flight to Doha, Qatar from Beirut and thence to the United States. Their paperwork was in order. The sole reason for their deportation is that the United States President Donald Trump have given his signature to an executive order which denied citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries to gain entry to U.S. territory.
According to the relatives of the family in the United States, the Christian family was stopped at the airport and was not permitted to use the internet or make calls. Members of the concerned family were not fluent in conversational English. This weakness was taken advantage of by authorities who threatened them with two choices: either return to Doha or stay and be detained with their visas taken away. Since they could not speak English properly, and being frightened after long hours of travel, they chose the first option.
Relatives were aghast at the turn of events. They had already bought a home for them and furnished it so the family can stay comfortably. They hoped that it was possible for them to contact when the coercion was taking place. The U.S. relatives would have instructed their refugee counterparts to select the second option.
Among the relatives waiting for them at the airport was Sarmad Assali and Sarah Assali, mother and daughter respectively. According to Sarmad, the authorities phoned them that morning and warned them their family members will be stopped from putting feet on American soil. What is ironic that the Assalis follow the Orthodox Christian tradition, which has encountered extreme persecution within Syria. The refugees started the immigration procedures in 2003. Only after a long wait in 2015, the family members finally received the approval to enter the U.S. on the basis of the F-4 visa for relatives of American citizens.
— Ishaan Tharoor (@ishaantharoor) January 29, 2017
The Assali family at present is in contact with Charlie Dent, their Congressman from the Republican Party. Attorneys are also roped in to formulate a plan. The Republican Congressman fully supported the Assali family. He said the visa vetting procedure can always be improved along with the refugee vetting program, but it is clearly wrong to send back a genuine refugee in the case of issuing an order when the family was already flying towards the U.S. to begin a new life.