Funeral Held for Boy Whose Yemeni Mother Fought to Enter the US to See Him

LODI -- Baby Abdullah’s funeral services were held at the California Islamic center in Lodi Saturday morning.

A father standing strong, in the face of unimaginable grief, laying his 2-year-old to rest.

Ali Hassan was front and center, honoring his son, Abdullah Hassan.

The toddler died Friday night at an Oakland hospital after losing his battle with a genetic brain disorder.

“We are here today because my government failed my family,” said Hassan. “it forced me to choose between my son’s health and keeping our family together.”

Hassan and his son, both U.S. citizens, came back to the U.S. so the toddler could receive medical treatment more than a year ago, leaving his Yemeni wife behind in Egypt as she tried to get a waiver.

It was his family’s fight and lawsuit against the U.S. government to bring the child’s mother, to the U.S. that gained national attention.

“Abdullah was a building light to show the world that Muslims love, hurt, grieve and mourn just like everybody else,” said Saad Sweilem.

Shaima Swileh was desperate to hug and kiss her baby in the days before he died. A wish civil rights attorney with The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Sacramento Valley, Saad Sweilem, says almost didn't come true.

The fight to get the toddler’s mother to the U.S. may be over but the family and activists say their larger fight against Trump’s travel ban continues.

“All of us are thinking, if this Muslim ban wasn’t in place to begin with Abdullah and his mom probably would have been here over a year ago,” Sweilem said.

Swileh sent 28 requests to the U.S. embassy asking for a waiver but was rejected each time because of Trump’s travel ban from several Muslim-majority countries including Yemen.

She arrived just 10 days ago and was able to hold her child once again.

“They’re going through an unimaginable time. It was cruel to keep them apart for as long as they did. I can’t even imagine having to then separate and go their own ways and you know have to mourn with all that distance,” said Sweilem. “So, for them this is an opportunity to mourn with dignity and that’s what they deserve. That’s what everybody deserves.”

During the funeral, Hassan says despite his son's death and the government keeping his family apart for so long -- they aren't angry – just hopeful Abdullah didn’t die in vain.

“We hope through Abdullah’s struggle and passing, that people who are affected by the Muslim ban from Yemen, Libya, Iran and Somalia and Syria, that we hope through his life, policy will be changed, and families will be reunited,” Hassan said.

CAIR says Abdullah’s case highlights what they believe is an unjust policy.

“I think this was an embarrassment to the Trump administration and it should be. They should be embarrassed. So, hopefully they’ll look at this case and they’ll realize the consequence of their policies and it’ll change things for other families going forward,” said Sweilem.

CAIR says they will continue to fight to repeal the travel ban.