Trump's travel ban almost blocked a woman from seeing her dying son

PHOTO: Abdullah Hassan, 2, who suffers from a genetic brain condition, is pictured at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland, Calif., in an undated handout photo from the Council on American-Islamic Relations Sacramento Valley chapter.PlayCAIR, Sacramento Valley
WATCH News headlines today: Dec. 18, 2018

A mother who had been blocked from seeing her terminally ill child due to the Trump administration's travel ban has been granted a visa waiver, advocates said Tuesday.

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Shaima Swileh's 2-year-old son, Abdullah, has a genetic brain condition that has continued to worsen, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations' Sacramento Valley chapter, which filed a writ of mandamus to try to help her get an expedited visa.

Abdullah and his father, Ali Hassan, are both U.S. citizens, and came to the U.S. so he could receive treatment at the University of California San Francisco's Benioff Children's Hospital in Oakland a few months ago, according to CAIR. Swileh is currently in Egypt, according to Hassan, and has not seen her husband or son since they arrived in the U.S. After having submitted multiple requests for her visa waiver to be expedited, she is expected to arrive at San Francisco International Airport Wednesday, according to CAIR.

PHOTO: Abdullah Hassan, 2, who suffers from a genetic brain condition, is pictured at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland, Calif., in an undated handout photo from the Council on American-Islamic Relations Sacramento Valley chapter. CAIR, Sacramento Valley
Abdullah Hassan, 2, who suffers from a genetic brain condition, is pictured at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland, Calif., in an undated handout photo from the Council on American-Islamic Relations' Sacramento Valley chapter.

"This is the happiest day of my life," Ali Hassan said in a statement, thanking both CAIR and the hospital staff.

"This will allow us to mourn with dignity," he added.

Swileh had been barred from traveling to the U.S. to see her son because she is from Yemen, one of the countries the Trump administration has restricted travel from indefinitely.

On Tuesday, CAIR's Sacramento Valley chapter tweeted that a visa waiver had been granted for Swileh and that the organization is working on "getting her here ASAP."

On Monday, religious and civil rights leaders gathered with Hassan at CAIR's office in Sacramento to demand Swileh be allowed to see her son before he is taken off life support, ABC San Francisco affiliate KGO-TV reported.

"My wife is calling me every day wanting to kiss and hold our son for one last time," Hassan said during the press conference. "Time is running out, please help us get my family together again."

The hospital where Abdullah is being treated released a statement in support of the family.

"[W]e greatly empathize with the family of 2-year-old Abdullah Hassan, a child currently on life support in our hospital whose mother is being prevented from entering the United States under the ban on travel from certain majority-Muslim countries," the hospital's statement said. "UCSF and the Benioff Children’s Hospitals support the family’s desire to come together in Abdullah’s final days. In the meantime, we are doing everything we can to keep the child comfortable and help the family through this difficult experience."

PHOTO: Abdullah Hassan, 2, who suffers from a genetic brain condition, is pictured at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland, Calif., in an undated handout photo from the Council on American-Islamic Relations Sacramento Valley chapter. CAIR, Sacramento Valley
Abdullah Hassan, 2, who suffers from a genetic brain condition, is pictured at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland, Calif., in an undated handout photo from the Council on American-Islamic Relations' Sacramento Valley chapter.

During a briefing with reporters Tuesday, Deputy State Department Spokesperson Robert Palladino called it a "very sad case," adding that their thoughts go out to the family at "this trying time."

But he defended the administration's actions, saying visa waivers are decided on a "case-by-case basis" and that State Department employees are "committed to following United States administration law and ensuring the integrity and security of our country's borders."

"These are not easy questions," Palladino added. "We've got a lot of Foreign Service officers deployed all over the world that are making these decisions on a daily basis, and they're trying very hard to do the right thing at all times."

Three California Democratic House members, Rep. Doris Matsui, Rep. Jerry McNerney and Rep. Barbara Lee, wrote a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday, requesting that the State Department expedite its decision regarding Swileh's visa waiver.

CAIR Sacramento Valley's civil rights attorney, Saad Sweilem, denounced the delay in granting Swileh a visa in a statement Monday.

"The loss of a child is something no parent should experience, but not being able to be there in your child's last moments is unfathomably cruel," Sweilem said in the statement.

Sweilem, who is representing the family along with attorney Jennifer Nimer, also asked for privacy when Swileh arrives.

"She is a grieving mother who hasn't seen her child in months," Sweilem said in a statement.

The organization had also launched an online petition in support of Swileh that had garnered more than 10,000 signatures.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Trump's travel ban, which restricts most travel to the U.S. from Yemen, Chad, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Syria and Venezuela. Civil rights groups have denounced the policy as a "Muslim ban," since many of the countries on the list are Muslim majority.

ABC News' Conor Finnegan contributed to this report.

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