Critically ill boy dies 10 days after mum granted US visa to see him

A critically-ill boy has died 10 days after his mother finally won a 17-month legal battle to visit him in the United States.

Shaima Swileh saw two-year-old Abdullah in hospital for the first time on 19 December, after the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) sued the Trump administration – fighting for Ms Swileh to be granted a waiver from the president’s travel ban.

Abdullah, who had a genetic brain disorder, died at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland, California, where he had been on life support.

His father, Ali Hassan, said the family was “heartbroken”, adding: “We had to say goodbye to our baby, the light of our lives.”

Ali Hassan with his dying son Abdullah, 2, in a hospital in Sacramento. Pic: Council on American-Islamic Relations
Ali Hassan with Abdullah in a hospital in Sacramento. Pic: Council on American-Islamic Relations

Like his father, Abdullah was an American citizen, and Mr Hassan took him to California in the autumn to seek treatment as his condition worsened.

The couple – married in war-torn Yemen in 2016 before moving to Egypt – had been trying to get Ms Swileh a visa since 2017 so the family could move together to California.

Ms Swileh is not a US citizen and remained in Egypt while fighting to get access.

People from Yemen and four other mostly Muslim countries, along with North Korea and Venezuela, are currently restricted from visiting the US.

At an emotional news conference prior to his wife’s arrival, Mr Hassan said she had been calling him every day “wanting to kiss and hold her son for the one last time”.

He said he was starting to lose hope and had considered taking his son off life support to stop him suffering further.

But a hospital social worker flagged the case to CAIR, which sued on 16 December.

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


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