Lehigh Valley

Syrian family lands at JFK, reunited with Allentown relatives

VIDEO: Assalis finally home in America

NEW YORK - The Allentown family whose six Syrian relatives were denied entry to the United States more than a week ago have been reunited in New York City. 

The Assali family arrived at JFK international Airport Monday morning. They left Syria on Sunday.

The family made national headlines last weekend after they were denied entry to the U.S. at the Philadelphia International Airport. 

The visas of the six family members were canceled and they returned to Syria as a result of the temporary travel ban put in place by the Trump administration.

Following a temporary restraining order issued by a U.S. District Court judge on Friday, the travel ban has been put on hold. The Assalis will now join their family in Allentown. 

Ghassan Assali is a naturalized citizen and had always hoped that his two brothers and their families would one day join him in the United States.

"I'm happy," said Assali. "I'm happy like I won the Super Bowl... I'm very happy."

The family has earned support from a number of organizations including the ACLU, as well as Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and Republican U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent, a friend and neighbor to the Assalis.

Speaking to reporters outside the airport, Dent said, "Their visas were canceled in mid-air. I guess what is most disturbing to me is these people did it the right way, they were in transit, they had their visas canceled and again, they're not refugees, they're visa holders and right now they're green card holders... so it was very unfair the way this was being executed."

Wolf released a statement Monday, that read in part, "We look forward to welcoming these families back to Pennsylvania. Our commonwealth, which was founded by immigrants escaping persecution, has always welcomed people from all over the world to share in realizing the American dream.” 


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