After months of controversy and criticism, President Donald Trump finally did what he repeatedly promised during his contentious presidential campaign: He signed executive orders banning immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.
The move ripped apart number of families across the country and sparked a series of protests against the new commander-in-chief and his xenophobic cabinet, who, despite all the evidence, continue to maintain it is not a Muslim ban.
However, amid all the chaos, the only ray of hope was the exemption for persecuted religious minorities.
Trump himself said he would protect the Christians fleeing the horrors of war in Middle East.
Christians in the Middle-East have been executed in large numbers. We cannot allow this horror to continue!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 29, 2017
Turns out, it was just another lie.
Customs and Border Protection officials forcefully sent two Orthodox Christian brothers, who managed to escape Syria with their children and waited 15 years to enter America legally, back to the Middle East shortly after they landed at Philadelphia International Airport.
The family, traveling on F-4 visa that is only given to the relatives of U.S. citizens, boarded a flight to Qatar while their relatives awaited their arrival at the airport.
“This is like a nightmare come true,” Joseph Assali of Allentown told NBC Philadelphia, adding his family legally obtained visas and green cards months ago. “They're all Christian citizens and the executive order was supposed to protect Christians fleeing persecution.”
Sarmad Assali, who was present at the airport to receive her relatives after years of separation, was unable to make contact when the plane touched down. Assali later found out the brothers were not allowed to make calls or use the internet while they were detained.
The Assalis claimed their family members, whose names they did not disclose for security reasons, were offered two choices: either have their visas taken away or take the first flight back to Doha.
The frightened family of six, none of them fluent in English, opted for second option.
“These particular family members were not refugees,” ACLU Pennsylvania staff attorney Molly Tack-Hooper told BuzzFeed News. “Their religion did not affect them. They were banned just because they’re Syrian.”
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Reuters