Shaima Swileh, a Yemeni mother who the United States government had denied entry on the basis of the Trump administration's controversial Muslim ban, has finally won a temporary visa to visit her dying two-year-old son, Abdullah Hassan, who has been on life support for over a month in an Oakland, California hospital with his father.
The toddler, Abdullah Hassan, was born in Yemen, nearly two years after that country's civil war began. Abdullah was born with hypomyelination, a rare brain disease, and was brought to Stockton, California by his father Ali Hassan, a U.S. citizen, five months ago to receive treatment. His mother, Shaima Swileh, was forced to remain in Egypt awaiting approval of her visa.
"My wife is calling me every day, wanting to kiss and hold her son for one last time," the 22-year-old Hassan said as he broke down in tears during a recent interview on CNN. "Time is running out. Please help us get my family together again."
Hassan pleaded with the U.S. State Department on Monday to expedite his wife's application for a waiver so she could say goodbye to their dying son. After Hassan appeared on CNN, their story garnered national attention and, under pressure, the State Department responded by issuing a waiver Tuesday morning for Swileh to temporarily travel to the United States, according to officials with the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
"Our hearts are breaking for this family," said Saad Sweilem, a civil rights attorney with CAIR-Sacramento Valley. "The loss of a child is something no parent should experience, but not being able to be there in your child's last moments is unfathomably cruel."
"From the crisis at our border to the Muslim ban, this administration is doing everything in its power to undermine immigrants' rights and uphold a xenophobic agenda that tears families apart," Sweilem continued. "Now we see the Muslim ban's effect in the most dehumanizing way."
The Muslim ban prohibits U.S. travel from nationals of Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. Rights groups fought to overturn the ban in the U.S. Supreme Court, claiming it was biased against Muslims, but the top court rejected the petition in June.