Amid a crowd of more than 100 protesters in Terminal A at PHL, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf made an announcement around 8:30 tonight: “I am here to say you are welcome here.” Less than an hour later, word filtered through that a federal judge’s ruling temporarily stayed part of an order from President Donald Trump banning citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days.
He wasn’t the only prominent politician to make an appearance. Senator Bob Casey left an engagement wearing a tux and tails to show solidarity for Syrian families at PHL who had been denied entry and forced to return to the Middle East and three people from Qatar who were being detained. Mayor Jim Kenney, Congressmen Bob Brady and Dwight Evans, City Councilwoman Helen Gym and state Rep. Brian Sims were also there. The detention and denied entry happened because of executive orders from Donald Trump restricting migration of refugees and green card holders from seven Muslim countries.
In a scene echoed at JFK airport in New York, O’Hare Airport in Chicago and others nationwide, protesters began assembling at PHL around 7 p.m., with Gym’s call for a rally on Twitter going viral. Many have been holding signs and joining in chants of “No hate, no fear, refugees are welcome here” and “hey hey, ho ho, the Muslim ban has go to go.”
Before the federal judge stayed Trump’s order, NBC10 reported Kenney told the assembled crowd Brady and Casey were working with customs officials to get them released. He also said lawyers were drafting petitions to end the three people’s detainment.
Earlier in the day, Kenney released a scathing statement after the Syrian families were denied entry. He said, “the Trump administration very well may have just given these families a death sentence.”
Congressman Charlie Dent, a Republican who represents Pennsylvania’s largest Syrian population in the Lehigh Valley, spoke out against the decision, too. A family turned away were relatives of some of his constituents. He told the New York Times‘ Jonathan Martin, “I urge the administration to half the enforcement of this order until a more thoughtful and deliberate policy can be instated.”