Kenney on Syrian families at PHL: Trump may have given them ‘a death sentence’

The mayor issued a scathing statement on the families reportedly turned away at PHL Airport today.

Kenney Trump
Wikimedia Commons

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney says the Trump administration may have given two Syrian families reportedly turned away at Philadelphia International Airport “a death sentence.”

NBC Philadelphia is reporting that two Syrian families who arrived at PHL Airport this morning from Qatar “were briefly detained and then sent back on a return 18-hour flight to the Middle East, according to a family member from Allentown, Pennsylvania.” They were reportedly immigrating to the country legally and working to gain citizenship.

They were turned away by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol after President Donald Trump yesterday signed an executive order restricting travel from seven predominately Muslim countries. The order also halted the acceptance of refugees from around the world and indefinitely suspended the program that allows refugees from Syria to resettle in America.

Last night at JFK Airport in New York, two Iraqis were detained due to Trump’s travel ban. They’ve since filed a lawsuit and protests have erupted at the airport. A protest is already scheduled to take place at PHL Sunday afternoon.

Kenney released the scathing statement this morning following the incident, saying he’s “sickened by reports that federal officials, without knowledge or cooperation of PHL Airport staff, detained and then turned away two Syrian families.”

Here’s the  statement in its entirety:

“I am sickened by reports that federal officials, without knowledge or cooperation of PHL Airport staff, detained and then turned away two Syrian families. By several accounts, these families waited months to obtain the proper documentation so they could come to our country legally. And still, they were sent back to a war-torn nation that has used chemical warfare against its own people. The Trump administration very well may have just given these families a death sentence.


Banning immigrants and refugees is not only unjustifiably cruel, it also puts Americans at home and serving abroad at great risk. By refusing to allow entry to any immigrants from these seven nations, even those who have helped American troops as interpreters and fixers, we are enabling anti-American radicalization and endangering the lives of many.


History has taught us that dark moments like this occur when we allow fear to silence our compassion and better judgement.  Our city has welcomed approximately 260 refugees in recent years from these now-banned nations. We must speak out strongly against this executive order so that these new Philadelphians’ friends and families can also find safe harbor in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection.”

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