OAKLAND — A Yemeni mother is finally traveling to Oakland to say goodbye to her dying son.
Shaima Swileh was previously unable to enter the country because of the Trump administration’s travel ban. But Tuesday morning, she learned the government granted her a waiver to allow her to come see her 2-year-old son.
“My wife called me crying of happiness,” said Swileh’s husband, Ali Hassan. “She is going to see her son for the last time.”
Her lawyer believes thousands of tweets, letters from members of Congress and media coverage helped persuade the government to fast-track the waiver.
“It’s the best thing she’ll ever have in her whole life,” Hassan said. “She will never forget that day. I mean touching her son, it’s amazing for her.”
Their son, Abdullah, is on life support at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital as his genetic brain condition worsens.
The 2-year-old and his father are both U.S. citizens who came to Oakland for treatment a few months ago.
His mother is a Yemeni national and was initially denied a visa to enter the U.S. due to the Trump administration’s travel ban barring entry from several countries.
“When we woke up this morning, we were able to receive the great news,” said civil rights attorney Saad Sweilem.
The U.S. State Department granted her a waiver to the ban, which she had applied for almost a year ago.
“There were people from all different kinds of backgrounds really unified as one American voice to say that this family should have the basic decency to be able to mourn together,” Sweilem said.
Sweilem filed a lawsuit Monday in federal court.
“If it took this much to get this case to qualify for a waiver you really have to question how legitimate the waiver process itself is,” Sweilem said.
He’s hoping the government will work on their policies moving forward to help other families.
As for Hassan, he knows he has some tough days ahead — but at least he’ll have his wife by his side.
“Those days will come where I have to take the breathing tube out of him and just take my son and go bury him,” Hassan said. “It will be the hardest time for me and for her.”
Swileh is expected to land in San Francisco tomorrow night. She’ll go straight to be with her son.
The waiver allowed her to get a spousal visa, so she plans to stay in the U.S. with her husband permanently.