Trump travel ban keeps Yemeni mother from visiting critically ill two-year-old son in California

'Not being able to be there in your child's last moments is unfathomably cruel'

Zamira Rahim
Monday 17 December 2018 13:25 GMT
Abdullah Hassan is on life support at a hospital in California
Abdullah Hassan is on life support at a hospital in California (CAIR )

The Yemini mother of a critically ill two-year-old is unable to visit her son in hospital because of the US travel ban, rights activists say.

Abdullah Hassan was born in Yemen with a genetic brain condition that initially affected his ability to walk and talk, but has now left the toddler unable to breathe on his own.

His father, Ali, lives in Stockton, California. Mr Hassan and his son are both US citizens.

Mr Hassan brought Abdullah to California for medical treatment a few months ago, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said.

Abdullah is now on life-support at the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland but his mother, who lives in Egypt, is unable to visit him.

Shaima Swileh is unable to travel to the US “despite her child’s life being in the balance” due to the Trump administration’s ban on Yemeni nationals entering the country, CAIR said.

The ban prevents travellers, immigrants and visa holders from Yemen, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, North Korea and Venezuela from entering the US.

Mr Trump signed the restriction into law after spending his 2016 election campaign calling for a “total and complete shutdown” on any Muslims travelling to the US “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on”.

The first iteration of his travel ban was dubbed the “Muslim ban” by critics and caused mass protests across the country.

In June the Supreme Court upheld the third version of the travel ban.

Ms Swileh​ has applied for a ban waiver but it is still pending, even as Abdullah’s condition worsens.​

Doctors have indicated that the toddler’s body is unlikely to withstand life support for much longer and she may be in Egypt during Abdullah’s last days.

“All she wishes is to hold his hand for the last time,” Ali Hassan told The San Francisco Chronicle.

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“Our hearts are breaking for this family,” said Saad Sweilem, a civil rights lawyer working in CAIR’s Sacramento Valley office.

The organisation has plans to go to court on Ms Swileh’s behalf, to force the government to expedite their response to the waiver application.

“The loss of a child is something no parent should experience,” Mr Sweilem said ”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.”

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