Two Pa. GOP Congressmen outspoken against Trump immigration ban

Updated: Sun. January 29, 2017, 10:10 a.m.

Two Pennsylvania GOP congressmen have broken with President Trump on his immigration ban.

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Bucks County and Rep. Charlie Dent of Allentown both have called for the President to rethink his decision.  Dent’s district has a large Syrian population while Fitzpatrick’s decision is based on his years in the counter-terrorism community where he dealt with the “complex” nature of immigration law.  Fitzpatrick called for a larger strategy and not just singular actions.

A federal judge in New York has issued an emergency order temporarily barring the U.S. from deporting people from nations subject to President Donald Trump’s travel ban.

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U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly issued the order Saturday evening after lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union filed a court petition on behalf of people who were detained at airports across the country as the ban took effect.

Cheers broke out in a crowd of demonstrators outside a Brooklyn courthouse as the decision, effective nationwide, was announced.

The order barred U.S. border agents from removing anyone who arrived in the U.S. with a valid visa from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.

It also covered anyone with an approved refugee application.

It was unclear how quickly the order might affect people in detention.


Two Syrian families were turned away upon arrival at Philadelphia International Airport on Saturday.

According to a statement from Mayor Jim Kenney, there are several more immigrants scheduled to arrive in the coming days who will also be denied entry to the United States.

“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.”

The Mayor’s office estimates 260 refugees have immigrated to Philadelphia in recent years from the nations banned by President Trump’s executive order. 

On Friday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order suspending all immigration from countries with terrorism concerns for 90 days. Countries included in the ban are Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen, which are all Muslim-majority nations.

“We must speak out strongly,” Kenney’s statement said, “so that these new Philadelphians’ friends and families can also find safe harbor in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection.”

New YorkIn New Yor’s John F. Kennedy Airport crowds of protesters have gathered following the detainment of a dozen refugees who entered the country there since Friday.

CNN reports that protests have been peaceful, including children and puppies.

This follows earlier reports that one of the detained men had been released.

The Iraqi national, Hameed Darweesh, who had worked on behalf of the U.S. government, will now join his wife, and young son, who were allowed to enter the country.

Congressman Jerry Nadler tweeted an announcement of Darweesh’s release just before 1 p.m.

Pleased to announce w/@NydiaVelazquez the release of Hameed Jhalid Darweesh from detention at JFK.

— (((Rep. Nadler))) (@RepJerryNadler) January 28, 2017

Nadler represents parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn, where “the ACLU and other legal organizations filed a writ of habeas corpus for the two men Saturday in an attempt to obtain their clients’ release,” NPR reports.

With – now released – Iraqi Refugee blocked by Trump’s order at JFK. Working w/@NydiaVelazquez to help 11 more refugees still being held.

— (((Rep. Nadler))) (@RepJerryNadler) January 28, 2017

According to Nadler’s Tweet, he is working with Representative Nydia Velazquez of New York’s 7th District to help the other 11 refugees currently being held.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, says it plans to challenge the constitutionality of President Donald Trump’s executive order barring all refugees from entering the United States for four months — and those from war-ravaged Syria indefinitely.

Trump says the ban is to prevent “radical Islamic terrorists” from entering the nation.

CAIR National Litigation Director Lena F. Masri says the order is “based on bigotry, not reality.” She says refugees are “the most thoroughly vetted of all people entering our nation” and there’s no evidence that they threaten national security.

ABC reports that two Iraqi refugees are currently being detained at Kennedy Airport since they arrived overnight.

“Their immigration attorneys filed a writ of habeas corpus Saturday morning in the Eastern District of New York seeking to have their clients released.

According to court papers filed in Downtown Brooklyn, one of the Iraqis at Kennedy Airport, Hameed Khalid Darweesh, had worked on behalf of the U.S. government in Iraq for 10 years. The other, Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi, was coming to the United States to join his wife, who had worked for a US contractor, and young son.”

Cairo airport officials say seven U.S.-bound migrants — six from Iraq and one from Yemen — have been prevented from boarding an EgyptAir flight to JFK airport as well.

The officials said the action Saturday by the airport was the first since President Donald Trump imposed a three-month ban on refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries: Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.

The seven migrants, escorted by officials from the U.N. refugee agency, were stopped from boarding the plane after authorities at Cairo airport contacted their counterparts in New York.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.

Qatar Airways is advising passengers bound for the United States from seven newly banned majority Muslim countries that they need to have either a U.S. green card or diplomatic visa to travel.

The order Friday immediately suspended a program that last year resettled in the U.S. roughly 85,000 people displaced by war, political oppression, hunger and religious prejudice. Trump indefinitely blocked those fleeing Syria, where a civil war has raged, and imposed a 90-day ban on all immigration to the U.S. from seven Muslim majority nations, citing terrorism concerns.

“We want to ensure that we are not admitting into our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas,” Trump said as he signed the order at the Pentagon. “We only want to admit those into our country who will support our country and love deeply our people.”

In other reaction to Trump’s order, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani says now is not a time to create more distance between nations.

The International Rescue Committee is calling President Donald Trump’s suspension of the U.S. refugee resettlement program a “harmful and hasty” decision.

As a candidate, Trump called for a temporary ban on all Muslim immigration to the U.S. He later shifted his focus to putting in place “extreme vetting” procedures to screen people coming to the U.S. from countries with terrorism ties.

The president was applauded by House Speaker Paul Ryan, who said it was “time to re-evaluate and strengthen the visa-vetting process.”

But many Democrats cast the measures as un-American.

“Tears are running down the cheeks of the Statue of Liberty tonight as a grand tradition of America, welcoming immigrants, that has existed since America was founded has been stomped upon,” said Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York.

The order makes no mention of a plan to provide safe zones in Syria and the surrounding area. A draft of the order had directed the Pentagon and the State Department to produce a plan for safe zones in the war-torn Mideast nation.

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