SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Ali Hassan was overwhelmed by emotions as he begged immigration officials Monday to allow his wife to travel to the U.S. to hold her dying son one last time.
Hassan was joined at a news conference by community and religious officials, who implored federal officials to make a travel ban exception and allow Shaima Swileh to travel from Egypt to the Bay Area.
Swileh is Yemeni and subject to the Trump Administration’s travel restrictions.
“My wife is calling me every day wanting to kiss and hold our son for one last time,” Hassan said. “Time is running out, please help us get my family together again.”
The couple’s son, Abdullah, who turned 2 years old last week, has a genetic brain condition that has worsened. His father brought him to the U.S. earlier this
year. Both Abdullah and his father are U.S. citizens.
Doctors have told the family that the boy’s body wouldn’t withstand life support much longer.
“Our hearts are breaking for this family,” said Saad Sweilem, a civil rights attorney with the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “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.”
The family’s plight has drawn support from a wide spectrum of religious leaders and civil rights activists, who hope to put pressure on Congress and the Trump administration.
Betty Williams, president of the Sacramento branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, called on Trump to allow an exception.
“It’s criminal that we have to stand before you and beg” for the family to be together, Williams said.
Lynn Berkley-Baskin, community outreach chair for the Jewish Community Relations Council, urged U.S. officials to grant Swileh a waiver that “will show what we say about family values is true” and to show compassion for the mother and son.
A State Department spokesperson wouldn’t address questions Monday about whether the agency was considering a waiver for Swileh, saying on background that details of individual cases are confidential.
CAIR is also pushing an online campaign to get people to urge their representatives to take action, which can be found HERE.