The Slatest

Yemeni Mother Blocked by Trump Travel Ban from Saying Goodbye to Dying 2-Year-Old Son

Two Muslim women lean against each other, as seen from behind. Suitcases can be seen next to them.
International travelers arriving on the first day of the the partial reinstatement of the Trump travel ban on June 29, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.
David McNew/Getty Images

A Yemeni woman trying to see her 2-year-old son in Oakland, California, once more before he is taken off life support has said the Trump administration is not allowing her into the country, no matter how desperate her pleas, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Monday.

The boy’s father, Ali Hassan, a 22-year-old U.S. citizen who lives in Stockton, told the Chronicle that he brought their son, Abdullah, to the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland five months ago for care. Abdullah, who was born in Yemen, has a rare brain disease that quickly accelerated until he was soon unable to breathe on his own. He is not expected to live much longer.

His mother, Shaima Swileh, a Yemeni citizen currently living in Egypt, has petitioned the State Department for a waiver to get a visa. The Council on American-Islamic Relations told the Chronicle it had filed a formal letter with the State Department and with the U.S. Embassy in Cairo to request the government expedite her request for a waiver. Hassan told the Chronicle he has been reaching out to the the State Department for updates regularly for a year, with no progress to show for it.

According to the Chronicle, Hassan met his wife in Yemen and lived with her and their son for about six months before returning to California, where he had lived since he was a child. They planned to have Swileh and their son follow eventually, but as Abdullah’s health deteriorated, Swileh moved to Cairo, and Hassan met them there in 2017 to obtain a passport for their baby. They quickly secured a passport for Abdullah, but Swileh’s visa application was denied under the travel ban. Unable to wait any longer to get medical help for their son, Hassan flew back to the U.S. with Abdullah, and they waited for Swileh’s waiver to be accepted.

The Trump travel ban, in its current form, forbids travel to the U.S. by citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen, as well as North Korea and Venezuela. Citizens of those countries can request waivers, but approval is rare.

According to the Chronicle, Abdullah is unconscious and will never wake up again. Swileh is still urgently trying to get to the U.S. just to hold him once more before he dies.