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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 18 January 2019

2-year old Yemeni boy whose mother sued US government to see him has died

Shima Swileh held her dying son for the first time in the hospital 10 days ago after being granted right to travel

Shaima Swileh holds her dying 2-year old son Abdullah Hassan at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital in California. AP
Shaima Swileh holds her dying 2-year old son Abdullah Hassan at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital in California. AP

The 2-year-old son of a Yemeni woman who sued the Trump administration to let her into the country to be with the ailing boy has died.

Abdullah Hassan died Friday in UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital in Oakland, where his father Ali Hassan brought him in the fall to get treatment for a genetic brain disorder.

Shaima Swileh, Abdullah’s mother, is not a US citizen and as such came under the Trump administration’s ban on nationals from six countries – a list that includes her native Yemen – from visiting the US.

This recent but undated photo, released Monday, Dec. 17, 2018 by the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Sacramento, Calif., shows Ali Hassan with his dying 2-year-old son Abdullah in a Sacramento hospital. The boy's Yemeni mother, blocked by the Trump administration's travel ban, has won her fight for a waiver that would allow her to travel to California to see her son. Basim Elkarra of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Sacramento said Shaima Swileh was granted a visa Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018, and will be flying to San Francisco on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. (Council on American-Islamic Relations via AP)
Ali Hassan with his dying 2-year-old son Abdullah in a Sacramento hospital. AP

After battling for over a year to be allowed to travel to America to be with her dying son, Ms Swileh was finally granted a waiver from the travel ban by the State Department a day after a lawsuit was filed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The legal action attracted widespread media attention.

Ms Swileh held her son for the first time in the hospital 10 days ago.

Ali Hassan, a US citizen who lives in California, moved to Egypt after marrying Ms Swileh in war-torn Yemen in 2016.

"We are heartbroken. We had to say goodbye to our baby, the light of our lives," Ali Hassan was quoted as saying in the statement published by CAIR. A funeral was scheduled for Saturday.

After the family moved to Egypt, Ms Swileh began in 2017 trying to get a visa to the US. But as citizens from Yemen and four other mostly Muslim countries, along with North Korea and Venezuela, are restricted from coming to the United States under President Donald Trump' s travel ban her bid had been unsuccessful.

When the boy's health worsened, the father went ahead to California in October to get their son help. Ms Swileh remained in Egypt hoping the government would grant her the right to travel. As the couple fought for a waiver, doctors put Abdullah on life support.

"My wife is calling me every day wanting to kiss and hold her son for the one last time," Ali Hassan said, choking up at a news conference earlier this month calling for the State Department to issue the waiver.

He started losing hope and was considering pulling his son off life support to end his suffering. But then a hospital social worker reached out to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which sued on December 16, said Basim Elkarra, executive director of the group in Sacramento.

The State Department granted Ms Swileh a waiver the next day.

"With their courage, this family has inspired our nation to confront the realities of Donald Trump's Muslim Ban," said Saad Sweilem, a lawyer with the council who represents the family. "In his short life, Abdullah has been a guiding light for all of us in the fight against xenophobia and family separation."

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Read more:

Yemeni mother holds dying son after year-long wait for US visa

Yemeni mother arrives in US to see dying son

Yemeni mother wins US visa fight to visit dying son

Updated: December 29, 2018 07:25 PM

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