A critically-ill boy has died 10 days after his Yemeni mother finally won a 17-month legal battle to visit him in the United States.
Shaima Swileh saw two-year-old Abdullah in hospital for the first time on 19 December, after the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) sued the Trump administration – fighting for Ms Swileh to be granted a waiver from the president’s travel ban.
People from Yemen and four other mostly Muslim countries, along with North Korea and Venezuela, are currently restricted from visiting the US.
Abdullah, who had a genetic brain disorder, died at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland, California, where he had been on life support.
His father, Ali Hassan, said the family was “heartbroken”, adding: “We had to say goodbye to our baby, the light of our lives.”
The couple – who got married in war-torn Yemen in 2016 before moving to Egypt – had been trying to get Ms Swileh a visa since 2017.
Like his father, Abdullah was an American citizen, and Mr Hassan took him to California in the autumn to seek treatment as his condition worsened.
Ms Swileh is not a US citizen and remained in Egypt while fighting to get access.
At an emotional news conference prior to his wife’s arrival in the US, Mr Hassan said she had been calling him every day “wanting to kiss and hold her son for the one last time”.
He said he was starting to lose hope and had considered taking his son off life support to stop him suffering further.
But a hospital social worker flagged the case to CAIR, which sued on 16 December.
The State Department granted Ms Swileh a waiver the next day.