After initially being denied entrance into the United States due to the Trump administration’s travel ban on more than a half-dozen countries, one Yemeni mother has obtained a visa to visit her two-year-old son who is on life support in Oakland, Calif.
The U.S. State Department granted Shaima Swileh a waiver on Tuesday after the boy’s American-born father Ali Hassan held an emotional press conference on Monday, begging the State Department to allow his wife to visit before it was too late, CNN and the L.A. Times report.
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The couple’s son, two-year-old Abdullah, was born in Yemen, but when he was eight months old, the family fled to Egypt to escape Yemen’s brutal civil war, which continues to rage to this day. The war has pitted a Saudi-led, U.S.-backed coalition against Houthi rebels supported by Iran.
Abdullah was born with hypomyelination, a genetic brain disorder that has slowly taken away his ability to walk and talk. Lately, he has lost his ability to breathe on his own and is on life support.
He is not expected to make it to his third birthday.
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The family wants to take him off life support to end his suffering but also wants the two-year-old to see his mother one last time.
Earlier this year, Abdullah travelled with his father to the United States to receive care. When the family realized that Abdullah needed better care than was available in Yemen, they flew to Cairo to petition for Swileh to receive a visa, but the petition was denied.
On Oct. 1, Hassan took Abdullah to California while his mother stayed behind in Cairo and waited to hear more details.
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According to reporting from CNN and the L.A. Times, Swileh will be taking the earliest available flight out of Egypt, where she’s currently staying. Money raised through a fundraising effort will pay for her flight and the boy’s funeral.
Visa waiver applications are decided on a case-by-case basis. In order to be granted a waiver, applicants must prove that restricting entry would cause hardship, that entry would not pose a threat to the national security or public safety of the U.S. and that entry would be in the national interest.
—With a file from Rahul Kalvapalle
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