Lehigh Valley

Dent pens letter after local family denied entry

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - Several families, including one with ties to Allentown, are suing the Trump administration.

Their loved ones were detained and sent back to their countries of origin.

Congressman Charlie Dent has sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security.

He is asking questions about why the Christian Syrian family is now back in Syria, after being detained at Philadelphia International Airport this weekend because of the President's immigration ban.

Dent says all six members of the Assali family had valid visas and paperwork for their green cards was in order when they landed.

Joseph Assali had been waiting to see his family, which is now back in Syria, because of President Trump's executive order on immigration that has temporarily banned people from seven majority Muslim countries from entering the United States.

Assali said, "This is the country of opportunity. The country of freedom and if you allow it to be turned into a land of discrimination where racism has taken root and hate is found across the whole country is a thought that gives me chills."

The American Civil Liberties Union is now filing lawsuits on behalf of three families, including the Assali family.

Sarmad Assali said, "I know this country was built on immigrants.  We are all immigrants from somewhere in the world.  My brother served in the U.s. army for 21 years.  He's a retired veteran.  What I did in 2003 I've been working 13 years to bring my husbands family here."

The Trump administration says the 90-day immigration ban is needed to keep Americans safe from terrorists and will allow improvements to the vetting process of immigrants.

The ACLU says the President's executive order violates several constitutional guarantees.

Fatemeh Sheikhi is a retired educator and was at the airport in Philadelphia, but was not able to see her daughters before going back to Iran. 

The ACLU said her visa was revoked and the families were not given interpreters and didn't understand what was happening.

The ACLU is asking the court to order the government to provide them with transportation back to the United States and reinstate their visas.

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