After Promising Priority Status To Christian Immigrants, Two Families Swept Up in Trump's Travel Ban

No sooner did the lie words get out of his mouth, in his panderview with Christian Broadcast Network’s David Brody, that Christian refugees would get priority status, do we see just how inept Donald Trump’s grasp on the immigration problem is.

On Friday, Trump sat with Brody in an interview scheduled to air on CBN on Sunday. In the interview, he discussed his planned halt to the Syrian refugee program – one of many campaign promises tossed out as red meat to his MAGA base.

In speaking with Brody, Trump assured that the order he would be signing on Friday would give Christians “priority status.”

“We are going to help them. They’ve been horribly treated,” Trump told the Christian Broadcasting Network in an interview set to air Sunday.

Upon being asked if he sees persecuted Christians “as kind of a priority” when it comes to granting non-citizens refugee status, Trump told Brady: “Yes.”

That was Friday.

By Saturday, all hell had broken loose. The order signed by Trump affected some immigrants that were in transit. It swept up some who were legal, green card-holders and American employees.

And it sent at least two Christian families back to the horrors they were fleeing, even though they had taken every legal step necessary to gain entrance.

NBC news out of Philadelphia reported on Sunday that two Syrian Christian families from Doha, Qatar were detained at Philadelphia International Airport on Saturday, before being turned away.

The families, made of up two brothers, their wives and two children, were detained by Customs and Border Protection officials after disembarking a Qatar Airways flight at 7:25 a.m., according to Joseph Assali, of Allentown.

Three hours later, the six were put back on a Qatar Airways flight to Doha, Assali said.

“This is like a nightmare come true,” he said, adding that they had visas and green cards legally obtained months ago.

“They’re all Christian citizens and the executive order was supposed to protect Christians fleeing persecution,” he said.

Trump’s executive order, having been filtered through his senior counsel, Steve Bannon, swept up all Syrian immigrants, green card holders included.

An immigration lawyer, working on behalf of the Assali family tried to find out what was going on from federal officials at the airport, but it was too late. The two families were already on a flight back to Qatar and were unreachable.

Trump said in signing the order that he pledged to “keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America.” He did, however, declare that Christians in Syria and other restricted-status counties would be given preference.

Syria was the only country he named Friday, but the order suspended entry for 90 days from countries linked to a statute in the Visa Waiver Program. Besides Syria, those countries are: Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.
An attorney with the ACLU of Pennsylvania told NBC10 that she was reaching out to the Assali family to get more details.

The attorney, Molly Tack-Hooper, said her organization would try to file a writ of habeas corpus on the detained family’s behalf. The writ would require authorities to bring the detainees before a judge before deportation.

Upon learning that federal authorities may have already deported the families, she said she would still reach out to the Assali family in Allentown.

“It’s fuzzy what we could do if they’re already on a flight back to Qatar,” she said.

Responding to a request by the ACLU, a federal judge out of New York granted an injunction that worked to block anyone with a valid visa from being deported under Trump’s ban.

It doesn’t, however, mean they can’t be detained, and it only applies to those already within the United States, not those trying to travel to the U.S.

Joseph Assali told NBC10 his family members are still on their flight and unaware of the injunction being granted. He said he’s been advised to let them know as soon as they land and to urge them to try and fly back to the United States as soon as possible.

I’ve heard different arguments in favor of the ban, as well as against.

I’ve also heard the arguments against creating a “religious test” for coming into our nation.

It should be obvious to everyone that there are risks associated with unfettered immigration, especially from regions that are in extreme turmoil, and where terrorists are fostered.

I absolutely agree that there needs to be a very strict vetting process for anyone who wants to enter the U.S.

I’ll go further, however, and say I support priority status for minorities from those regions that might be at a greater risk for persecution.

In the case of Syrian and other Middle Eastern refugees, that would definitely mean Christians.

Is that a “religious test” and is it right or wrong?

I don’t have a problem with it. We can’t just fling open the gates and take everyone, but a bit of compassion in helping some of those who are at risk of annihilation in their home countries shouldn’t be off the table, either.

Whatever the case, and whatever your stance on this, Trump and his circle dropped the ball, here. They’ve opened up the entire order to scrutiny and it is likely going to be a nasty fight in the courts to get resolved.