Yemeni mom granted US visa to be with dying 2-year-old son in Oakland

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Two-Year-old Abdullah Hassan always has his father by his side. But Wednesday night, his mom will finally be there, too. Even if just to say goodbye. (KGO-TV)

Two-Year-old Abdullah Hassan always has his father by his side. But Wednesday night, his mom will finally be there, too. Even if just to say goodbye.

"My son is dying right now. Even though it's too late for him, at least I am getting her. We will be able to say goodbye to our son," says Ali Hassan, 22, Abdullah's father.

RELATED: Family pleads for waiver to allow Yemeni mom to visit dying 2-year-old at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland

Hassan, who is from Stockton, brought his son to the United States to treat a rare brain disease.

The family was living in Yemen, awaiting his wife's visa application to be approved. They then moved to Egypt to escape the escalating war in Yemen.

But when Abdullah's illness became terminal, Ali applied for a waiver so his wife, Shaima Swileh, would be allowed into the U.S. to be with their dying son.

"All families belong together. No families should be separated," says Ali.

Swileh, 20, first applied for a visa in 2016. But she is from Yemen, which automatically bars her from entering the United States under the Trump administration's current travel ban - even though both her husband and son are American citizens. Next, the family applied for a waiver as the wife and mother of a U.S. citizen, whose child is facing a life-threatening medical condition. That, too, was not granted.

As public outcry grew, Congress got involved.

"As a mother, I was devastated, and as a grandmother. Can you imagine you have a sick child, and not be able to visit this child?," says Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee. She represents California's 13th District, which includes Oakland.

Lee calls the travel ban "outrageous" and "un-America." She says Abdullah's story pushed her exercise every bit of power she has to reunite the family.

Lee, along with Reps. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento, and Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, co-authored a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday, urging him to grant the waiver.

For several days, Lee's office negotiated with U.S. embassy in Cairo, which was processing the application, trying to get a waiver approved on humanitarian grounds, and given that Abdullah's may just have a few days left to live.

And it worked.

"My wife called me crying out of happiness (because) she's going to see her son for the last time!" says Ali.

He says his wife was granted a spousal visa Tuesday morning, which means she can now stay and live with her husband here in northern California and apply for citizenship. Ali says she boarded the first flight out of Cairo to San Francisco International Airport. She arrives Wednesday evening.

"It's the best day she will ever have in her whole life. She will never forget that day," Ali says about his wife's reaction to getting her visa.

"To hold her son. It (will be) amazing for her," says Ali.
Related Topics:
politicsfamilyhealthchildren's healthu.s. & worldtravelbanPresident Donald Trumpdonald trumpSacramentoOaklandUCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland
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