Travel Ban

Yemeni Mother Can't See Dying 2-Year-Old Because of Trump's Travel Ban, Family Says

"It's separating family-literally separating family from each other."


Ting Shen Xinhua News Agency/Newscom

The family of a 2-year-old U.S. citizen with a rare brain disease says President Donald Trump's travel ban is stopping the baby's mother from seeing him before he dies. "It's separating family—literally separating family from each other," Abdullah Hassan's father, Ali, tells KPIX.

Ali Hassan and his wife Shaima Swileh were both born in Yemen—one of the countries covered by Trump's travel ban—where they met. About 10 years ago, Ali moved to California, where his grandparents moved decades ago. But he returned to Yemen on multiple occasions, including after Swileh gave birth.

Tragically, their son Abdullah was born with a rare and severe form of hypomyelination, a genetic disorder that affects the nervous system. The disease got worse over time, and eventually it became difficult for Abdullah to breathe. He is currently on a ventilator and is likely running out of time, his father tells the San Francisco Chronicle.

When Abdullah was about eight months old, Swileh took him from Yemen to Cairo, where Hassan soon joined them. Hassan, who's an American citizen, was able to obtain U.S. citizenship and a passport for his son. But Swileh had a much harder time. She waited for months to hear if the Department of State would grant her a visa, only to be denied. A letter from the U.S. Embassy in Cairo said her request had been shot down "pursuant to Presidential Proclamation 9645."

The proclamation in question, issued in September 2017, was Trump's third attempt at a travel ban. In June, the Supreme Court defended the proclamation's constitutionality, reasoning that the administration "has set forth a sufficient national security justification to survive rational basis review." And while the ban allows would-be travelers to apply for a waiver, Swileh's request for one is reportedly still being processed.

With Abdullah getting worse, Hassan took him to California earlier this year. He's currently on life support at a children's hospital. Swileh hasn't seen her son since they left. "She starts crying and crying every single day. She wants to be next to her son," Hassan tells KPIX.

Trump's travel ban isn't likely to deter foreign-born terrorists, most of whom come from nations not covered by the ban anyway. Plus, as an internal Department of Homeland Security document explained in March, "most foreign-born, US-based violent extremists likely radicalized several years after their entry to the United States, limiting the ability of screening and vetting officials to prevent their entry." But the ban does mean that many people who have good reason to enter the country, like Swileh, aren't able to.