After a swarm of public protest, a Yemeni mother was granted a visa on Tuesday to travel to the United States where her 2-year-old son is on life support at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland.
Council on American-Islamic Relations Sacramento Valley Executive Director Basim Elkarra told KTVU that Shaima Swileh left the embassy in Cairo on Tuesday en route to the Bay Area. She is expected to arrive at San Francisco International Airport Wednesday at 7:35 p.m.
"This is the happiest day of my life," said Ali Hassan, 22, the boy's father and Swileh's husband. "Just last week, I was about to pull him off life support. I can't thank all those who answered the call to help our family. This will allow us to mourn with dignity."
Swileh had been prohibited from entering the country because of the Trump administration’s ban on travelers from certain Muslim countries. She had been waiting alone in Egypt, where the family first went to get medical treatment. After months, however her husband and son made the heart wrenching decision to leave her back, opting for specialized treatment at Children's Hospital in Oakland, where father and son arrived on Oct. 1.
Abdullah Hassan, who turned 2 on Saturday, has a form of hypomyelination, a disease that prevents formation of the fatty tissue that surrounds nerve cells and helps them communicate with one another.
Not all cases of hypomyelination are fatal, but in Abdullah’s case, the effect is severe enough that it is now interfering with his ability to breathe.
His doctors in Oakland said the toddler is not expected to live much longer. It's those doctors who alerted CAIR about the family's struggle.
Swileh had applied for a visa more than a year ago but her "repeated requests for an expedited waiver have been ignored," according to a fundraising page set up for the family. Father and son both have dual citizenship, as Hassan is from Stockton, Calif. She is a Yemeni national. Yemen is one of the countries under Trump's travel ban.
CAIR held a news conference with interfaith leaders on Monday in Sacramento, demanding that the mother get a "Muslim waiver ban." Many reporters contacted the State Department to find out why a mother couldn't get a waiver to visit a dying son. A spokesperson said that the department "makes every effort to facilitate legitimate travel by international visitors...All visa applications are adjudicated on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the requirements of the Immigration and Nationality Act."