2-year-old child of Yemeni mother at center of travel ban fight dies at Oakland hospital

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OAKLAND (KRON) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations confirmed Friday evening the 2-year-old boy on life support at an Oakland hospital has died. 

Abdullah Hassan’s funeral is scheduled for Saturday in Lodi at the California Islamic Center. 

 “We are heartbroken. We had to say goodbye to our baby, the light of our lives,” the father of the boy, Ali Hassan, said in a statement, “We want to thank everyone for your love and support at this difficult time. We ask you to kindly keep Abdullah and our family in your thoughts and prayers.”

The child’s family was at the center of a visa fight amid President Donald Trump’s travel ban. 

Shaima Swileh, the mother of the child, had been restricted from traveling to the United States under the White House travel ban until the US State Department granted her a travel waiver earlier this week.

An attorney for the family with the council said Friday, “Ali and Shaima are in our thoughts and prayers as they mourn the loss of dear Abdullah. With their courage, this family has inspired our nation to confront the realities of Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban. In his short life, Abdullah has been a guiding light for all of us in the fight against xenophobia and family separation.”

Swileh spent over a year trying to get a waiver that would let her join Hassan and their son, Abdullah, as they sought medical care in the US, the family’s attorneys said.

Hassan and Abdullah are American citizens and were able to leave Egypt for the US in October but the ban restricts Yemeni nationals like Swileh from entering the country.

The couple’s only child suffered from genetic brain condition that worsened over time, leading doctors to place him on a ventilator as the family pleaded consular officials to expedite Swileh’s visa application so she could see her son.

Doctors had told Hassan that patients like his son are usually on life support for two or three weeks, or a month at most. Abdullah had been on a ventilator at the Children’s Hospital for more than a month.

The President’s travel ban, which has been touted as a way to thwart terrorists’ entry into the United States, has drawn legal challenges. But the executive order still restricts citizens of Yemen and six other countries from entering the country.

According to the State Department, consul officers can make exceptions to the travel restriction when a visa’s “issuance is in the national interest, the applicant poses no national security or public safety threat to the United States, and denial of the visa would cause undue hardship.”

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