SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — A Yemeni mother was reunited with her dying toddler Wednesday night following public outcry over her repeated failed attempts to get a travel visa to the United States.
Shaima Swileh was welcomed by a large crowd at San Francisco International Airport after a long flight from Egypt where she applied for a travel visa several times, but was denied because the country is under the Trump administration’s travel ban.
“This process shows that this is a Muslim ban and that this waiver is a sham,” said Basim Elkarr of Council on American Islamic Relations-Sacramento Valley during a news conference after Swileh’s arrival.
Her son, 2-year-old Abdullah, has a degenerative brain disorder and is on life support at an Oakland hospital. He could be taken off at any moment.
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The boy’s father, Ali Hassan, flew to California with Abdullah a few months ago in a last ditch effort to save him, leaving behind his wife.
Hassan is a U.S. citizen from Stockton and sought to receive the best medical care for Abdullah in Oakland.
Since then, Swileh has tried to get a waiver to be by her son’s side, but was repeatedly denied. Earlier this week, the family’s story not only gained national attention, but also the attention of lawmakers and thousands of supporters who wrote letters to Congress.
By Tuesday, Swileh had gotten word that the State Department granted her a waiver to be with her son in his final moments.
“The fact that they ultimately approved her shows that there was no issue with her case to begin with and that she should’ve been approved months ago,” Banan Al-Akhras of Nimer Law said during the news conference.
Swileh didn’t say a word to the large crowd of supporters and media who gathered around her, but many felt she didn’t need to.
Deaa Ahmed, a mother of five, said she knows Swileh must have been in pain while separated from her son.
“I feel sorry for her,” she said.
The couple was rushed to the hospital and through a back entrance seconds after the news conference. They asked the crowd for privacy.
“This is difficult time for our family,” said Hassan “But we are blessed to be together.”