Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, Governor Tom Wolf, Senator Bob Casey (D - Pa.) and Representative Bob Brady (D - Pa. 1) arrived at Philadelphia International Airport Saturday night to intervene on behalf of immigrants who were detained under President Trump's recent executive action restricting access through America's borders.
"These are people who have gone through all the hurdles and they have chosen to come and live with us here in Pennsylvania," Wolf said. "And I say to them you are welcome here."
The four were joined by civil rights attorneys, more than 150 protesters holding signs and chanting, as well as City Councilwoman Helen Gym and federal lawmakers incised by the effects of the immigration ban.
"Hey, hey! Ho, ho! The Muslim ban has got to go," the demonstrators shouted.
An attorney with the ACLU of Pennsylvania told NBC10 at least five people were being detained under an executive order signed Friday evening by President Donald Trump that immediately put restrictions on travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries and temporarily halted a refugee program for Syrian immigrants. Three of the detainees are adults from Qatar, according to the ACLU.
City officials told NBC10's Aundrea Cline-Thomas that one of the men has worked as an interpreter for the U.S. government.
The executive order appears to have also closed access for legal permanent residents, known as green card holders, according to reports from national civil rights groups.
Kenney told the demonstrators Rep. Brady and Sen. Casey were negotiating with customs officials to speak with the detainees.
"There is an emergency judge on tonight in federal court and there are lawyers drafting petitions...for them to be released, or at least, not to be detained," he said.
They were not allowed to see the detainees however. Neither were the civil rights lawyers.
"They already sent families back," Brady said. "Now they have people here right now that are staying overnight not knowing what they're going to be able to do."
Late Saturday night, after the protest began, a federal judge granted an injunction in response to a request filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and other legal organizations on behalf of individuals subject to President Trump's Muslim ban.
The stay blocks anyone with a valid visa being held at airports from being deported. However, the stay only applies to those currently within the U.S., but not to anyone who tries to come to the U.S. going forward. It also does not mean detainees will be released, only that they can't be deported, according to ACLU attorneys.
Philadelphia's airport protest is one of several at major air hubs around the country. Throngs of people gathered outside John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City where 12 refugees were detained Saturday. Protests were also expected in Chicago, San Francisco and Virginia.
A second protest is scheduled to take place at Philly International Airport Sunday at 2 p.m.