Bittersweet relief

Hospital where 2-year-old American boy is on life support contacted Council on American-Islamic Relations about separated family’s plight

Ali Hassan made a public appeal on Monday for his Yemeni wife to be granted a travel waiver so she could see their dying son.

Ali Hassan made a public appeal on Monday for his Yemeni wife to be granted a travel waiver so she could see their dying son.

Photo by Raheem F. Hosseini

The Trump administration on Tuesday granted a desperate mother’s appeal to be allowed into the United States to hold her dying infant son one last time.

Shaima Swileh required a travel waiver to make the sojourn from Cairo, Egypt, due to President Donald Trump’s executive order barring travelers from seven mostly Muslim countries, including Yemen, where Swileh is from. The State Department granted the waiver the morning after the Sacramento Valley office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, drew national attention to the family’s plight during a press conference in the north Sacramento office building it shares with SN&R.

Swileh was expected to arrive in San Francisco Wednesday evening, a CAIR staff member said. Her 2-year-old son Abdullah is currently on life support at an Oakland hospital.

Abdullah’s father, Ali Hassan of Stockton, brought his son to the country a few months ago for treatment for a genetic brain condition. Both are U.S. citizens. Choked with emotion, Hassan said Monday that his wife had been prevented entry into the United States. Abdullah turned 2 just two days prior, he said.

“My wife’s calling me every day wanting to kiss and hold our son for the one last time,” an anguished Hassan told reporters. “Time is running out.”

According to CAIR-SV attorney Saad Sweilem, the chapter learned of the family’s dire situation from staff at the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, which is treating Abdullah. Sweilem linked the federal government’s treatment of Abdullah to the recent death of a 7-year-old girl from Guatemala in U.S. Border Patrol custody.

“American is in the middle of a fight,” he told reporters. “This administration is doing everything in its power to undermine immigrant rights and uphold a xenophobic agenda that tears families apart. As Americans, we need to decide. We decide what we want the rest of the world to think about when they think about America.”

For Hassan, who said in a statement that he was preparing to take Abdullah off life support before learning of the development, it was a glimpse of the old America.