Bring the Assali Family Back!

$22,969 of $35k goal

Raised by 677 people in 2 months
Susan Ellis Wild
on behalf of sarmad assali
 ALLENTOWN, PA


The Assali family (2 brothers, their wives, and two teen children) began the process of obtaining their visas to immigrate to the United States in 2003, while living in Syria.  When they started the process, Syria was not a war-torn country; they simply wanted to join their family.  However, as time went on, the danger of the Syrian war compelled them to do everything possible to leave the country and come to the US.  Finally, 13 years later, in December of 2016, they were approved to move here to join the rest of their extended family in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where they have many relatives who have lived here for decades and had prepared a home for them.  The Syrian Assalis decided to wait until January so that they could spend one final Christmas with their loved ones who were remaining in Syria.  On January 27, 2017, they embarked on a lengthy trip to the United States, which included hours of road travel and 18 hours of air time.  Upon arriving at Philadelphia International Airport on January 28, 2017, they were immediately detained in accordance with the new executive order signed by Donald Trump. Then, without knowing their rights and without the benefit of a translator, their passports were confiscated, their visas were "cancelled" and they were put on a flight to Qatar.   All of this was without a single phone call permitted.  Once they arrived in Qatar, they were forced to leave and drive home to Damascus. There they remain, awaiting word on the future of their status in the United States.

Thanks to the efforts of their American family, and many community activists and lawyers, their cause will be fought in the courts this week.  The outcome is uncertain.  If they are successful, they will incur huge expenses in connection with travel back to the States.  They had already depleted their life savings to come to America, only to have that dream destroyed and their finances eradicated.

This is a family of immigrants who went through every  proper legal channel to obtain visas to this country.  They never sought asylum (although they could have) because they wanted to "follow all the rules."  But once they arrived,  they found that the government of the country they had longed to live in had turned against them.

Let's ensure that once the legal questions are settled*, they can afford their flight back here and reunite with their family.

*This is an ongoing legal proceeding, and the Assalis' future is not yet determined. If the worst occurs and they are unable to reenter the United States, the funds raised here will be redirected to an organization dedicated to ensuring others do not face the same fate (e.g. the ACLU).  If they are successful, any funds in excess of what they need for travel will be distributed to them for initial living expenses in the U.S.
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Update 7
Posted by Susan Ellis Wild
2 months ago
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For those (relatively few) people who believed that the Asaali family "got what they deserve" because they allegedly voted for Trump (which is incorrect!) -- I share here the post today of a family member. I trust this clears things up.

I am beyond happy that my family has finally been able to return to the US after over a week of hard work and immense support. It would have never been possible without the help of the government employees, attorneys, media, and countless people who supported our cause and used their efforts to return our family to us. I am so grateful to everyone who recognized the importance of the situation, and it is incredibly reassuring to know that my family is welcome in America to begin a new life in safety and comfort. We are fortunate to have been able to bring them here, but we cannot turn our eyes away from the the wars and devastation that still consumes our homeland. There are still millions of innocent civilians that are trapped amongst massacres, rape, and other brutal horrors under the Islamic State. This nightmare has displaced millions of refugees and torn apart countless families, who Trump is attempting to label as villains and terrorists and "bad dudes". It's important that we do not shift the blame from where it properly belongs (ISIS), and extend a helping hand to those in need instead of rejecting them and forcing them to live in terror.
It's also important that we remain outraged at every injustice that we encounter under this new administration. The barrage of executive orders already signed threaten a future of pipelines, walls, inequality, and division. We cannot allow hatred and discrimination to continue shaping our country's policies. I will still protest to keep Philadelphia a sanctuary city, and America a nation of diversity and unity. Stay outraged, and keep democracy alive.
Siblings reunited. The fellow in the middle has been here for several years, separated from his mom and dad, and brother and sister.
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Update 6
Posted by Susan Ellis Wild
2 months ago
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2
2
Heading to JFK to meet the Assali family! They've been traveling for almost 20 hours now.
The Asali family waiting in Baghdad airport for connection to Abu Dhabi.
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Update 5
Posted by Susan Ellis Wild
2 months ago
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This is a photo of the dejected family returning to Syria after being turned away from PHL and almost 40 hours in transit.
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Update 4
Posted by Susan Ellis Wild
2 months ago
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1
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As the organizer of this page, I feel compelled to speak publicly and respond to some of the comments made on this page regarding reports that the Assalis of Allentown voted for Trump. These reports are incorrect. They did not vote for any candidate, and more importantly, were vitally concerned about the safety of their loved ones in Syria. For that reason, they discussed the relative benefits of one candidate over the other, and as with many in the local Syrian community, voiced hope that Trump might bring about a safer world for their family. HOWEVER, they did not vote for him, period.
Even more important, however, is to keep in mind that their family members who have now been returned to Syria did not vote (obviously) and had no political convictions about the election in the U.S. They just knew that they had to get out of Syria. So, please do not hold any grudge against the people for whom this page was organized. I hope this answers any questions. If you have more, please send an email to the organizer of this page (me) and I will do my best to answer any questions. Peace, Susan
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Read a Previous Update

$22,969 of $35k goal

Raised by 677 people in 2 months
Created January 29, 2017
Susan Ellis Wild  
on behalf of sarmad assali
$7
Anonymous
2 months ago
$5
Anonymous
2 months ago
CW
$25
Cody West
2 months ago
AD
$50
Annette Durrant
2 months ago

I am so happy for your entire family to be re-united. When I heard your story, that terrible weekend, I thought about your family members who were wrongfully turned away all week. I even contacted your attorney to find out how I could contribute towards your travel expenses to come back to the US. I was so elated to see your family on the news Monday night coming into Kennedy Airport. I wish I could have been there to welcome you! I live nearby. Just remember you have a lot of Americans rooting for your success! Now you can relax and have a wonderful life here in the US. All the best to each and every one of you! Surely God will continue to bless you!

$100
Anonymous
2 months ago
AG
$20
Akiva Gavriel
2 months ago
$10
Alice Turner
2 months ago

I'm sorry it can't be more. Welcome to America. I hope you find love, friendship, and happiness. <3

TN
$100
Thomas Nealon
2 months ago
1
1

Welcome to America

$50
Maya Mesola
2 months ago
1
1

Welcome to Sarah Assali and her family to Allentown. I cried when I saw your tears. People here love you and are happy that you are here now reunited with your family. Sending you my best wishes. Please consider applying to Lehigh University for studies.

$50
Anonymous
2 months ago
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