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Toddler dies days after reunion with Yemeni mom. Family says Trump travel ban kept her away

A Yemeni-American child separated from his mother due to travel restrictions instituted by the Trump administration has died in Oakland after a long fight with a degenerative brain disease.

Two-year-old Abdullah Hassan passed away at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland at 8:04 p.m., according to Basim Elkarra, Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Hassan came to national attention last week as his mother, Shaima Swileh, fought for a visa to reach the child’s bedside before he died. Abdullah had been on life support, but his condition was fatal and doctors had given him only days to live. Swileh had been repeatedly denied a travel visa, according to the family.

The state department did not respond to a previous request for comment from The Bee.

“We are heartbroken. We had to say goodbye to our baby, the light of our lives,” Ali Hassan, Abdullah’s father, 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.”


Hassan is a U.S. citizen and lives in Stockton. Abdullah was also a U.S. citizen, but Swileh is Yemeni. President Donald Trump issued an executive order days after taking office that restricted visas for nationals of Yemen and a handful of other countries.


The family was staying in Cairo while Swileh tried to obtain a waiver to that ban, which would allow her a visa to travel with her family to the United States to receive medical treatment for Abdullah, but she was repeatedly denied travel documents, Hassan said.

As the child’s condition worsened, Abdullah and his father came to the U.S. in October without her.

After media drew attention to the case, Swileh was granted a visa waiver from the U.S. State Department on Dec. 18 and arrived last Wednesday. The waiver will allow her to remain in the U.S. and seek permanent legal status.

“With their courage, this family has inspired our nation to confront the realities of Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban,” CAIR attorney Saad Sweilem said. “In his short life, Abdullah has been a guiding light for all of us in the fight against xenophobia and family separation.”

Abdullah’s funeral is scheduled for Saturday afternoon in Lodi.

Due to an editing error, this article was updated Dec. 29 to correct how long Abdullah was separated from his mother.

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