William Penn arrived here on a ship called the “Welcome” and established a colony with the values of tolerance and inclusion as the keystones to its foundation. He envisioned this land as a place where families of all faiths could come to create a better future for their children.
And the United States, established by the signing of the constitution here in Pennsylvania, was set up as a country where people could escape oppression.
So when members of Dr. Ghassan Assali and Sarmad Assali’s family were denied entry at Philadelphia International Airport because of President Donald Trump’s ban affecting green card holders, refugees, and visitors from certain Muslim-majority countries, I was outraged.
One of Mrs. Assali’s brothers is a 25-year veteran of the United States Army. He fought in Desert Storm. Dr. Assali’s brother, sister-in-law, and four other family members worked for an immigration visa for 13 years, and they had finally completed the long journey from Syria. Dr. Assali and his wife remodeled a house for the six relatives to move into Saturday, and had been planning a big dinner for the family in Allentown.
But on Saturday, President Trump’s illegal travel ban caused the six of them to be sent back on 18-hour flight. Ghassan and Sarmad have done great things in Allentown for Pennsylvania and I think it’s a dark day for all of us that their family was treated this way by our government.
This past weekend, I joined Senator Bob Casey, Congressman Bob Brady, Congressman Dwight Evans, and thousands of protesters at Philadelphia International Airport to voice my opposition to the ban. After hearing about how Dr. Assali’s family members were sent back, I met with his family and held a press conference with them so the world could hear their story.
Since then, I’ve worked with Attorney General Josh Shapiro to fight for the Assali family and any Pennsylvania families who may be affected. Attorney General Shapiro has since gotten 16 other attorneys general from states across the country to sign on to a letter questioning the constitutionality of what the president did. I applaud Attorney General Shapiro and his fellow attorneys general.
While civil rights lawyers around the country have already won victories in federal court overturning or staying parts of President Trump’s order, this fight isn’t over. Too many still face the risk of being denied entry simply because of their nationality and religion.
We must reclaim our Pennsylvanian and American values — and to do that, I need to you standing with me to oppose President Trump’s order. Add your name to the petition