The Yemeni mother of a dying two-year-old boy has been barred from travelling to the US to see her son due to President Donald Trump’s controversial ban on visitors from her country.
Shaima Swileh’s husband, Ali Hassan appealed to the US State Department on Monday to expedite his wife’s application for a waiver so she could say goodbye to their son, Abdulla, who is on life support.
“My wife is calling me every day, wanting to kiss and hold her son for one last time,” the 22-year-old US national said as he broke down in tears. “Time is running out. Please help us get my family together again.”
Abdulla has a rare degenerative brain disease and may not be able to withstand life support for much longer, the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) said in a statement last week.
Swileh’s visa was rejected last year because of the so-called Muslim ban, under which the Trump administration imposed travel restrictions on mainly Muslim-majority countries.
The 21-year-old mother, who lives in Egypt, applied for a waiver, but has been waiting to hear back from more than a year, despite repeated requests to expedite her case, CAIR said.
“Now we see the Muslim ban’s effect in the most dehumanising way,” said Basim Elkarra, a campaigner at CAIR, on Monday.
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“We are calling on the department of state to issue a Muslims ban waiver, to allow Shaima Swileh, the wife of a US citizen, the mother of a US citizen, to hold her child one last time and to allow her to mourn with dignity.”
In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday, Hassan said his child will not survive the journey to Egypt’s capital, Cairo, where Swileh lives.
The couple met and married in Yemen, according to the Chroncile. Their son was born in Yemen, nearly two years after the country’s civil war began.
The conflict has killed more than 10,000 people and pushed the impoverished country to the verge of famine, prompting the UN to call the situation there “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis”.
Swileh left Yemen for Egypt when Abdulla was eight months old. Hassan met her in Cairo and obtained travel documents for his son from the US embassy, the Chronicle said.
He was forced to leave Swileh and travel to his hometown in Stockton in California because of Abdulla’s deteriorating condition.
The State Department does award waivers, but only very rarely.
It has declined to comment on the case.
In addition to Yemen, the third version of Trump administration’s travel ban prohibits entry to the US by most people from Iran, Libya, Somalia and Syria. It also affects visitors from North Korea and some travelers from Venezuela.
Rights group sought to overturn the ban at the US Supreme Court, claiming it was biased against Muslims. But the top court rejected the petition.