A terminally ill 2-year-old boy, whose Yemeni mother had to sue the State Department to get a visa to join him in a California hospital, died Friday night of a rare brain condition, the Council on American-Islamic Relations announced.
Abdullah Hassan, an American citizen, was to be buried Saturday.
“We are heartbroken. We had to say goodbye to our baby, the light of our lives,” Ali Hassan, the boy’s father, who is also an American citizen, said in a statement issued by CAIR Sacramento Valley.
The Hassan family, including Abdullah’s mother, Shaima Swileh, had been living in Cairo, where the couple moved following the outbreak of war in Yemen in 2016.
They had been unable to move to California because Shaima, a Yemeni national, was turned down for a visa under the Trump administration’s 2017 travel ban.
The ban, which underwent revisions following objections by federal courts, bars visas from five Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Somalia, Syria, Libya and Yemen, as well as citizens from North Korea and Venezuelan government employees and their families.
After Abdullah was diagnosed with a degenerative brain condition, Ali decided to take his son for treatment to California in October.
But, without a visa, Shaima Swileh was forced to stay behind.
As the couple appealed for visa waivers, doctors in California put Abdullah on life support.
“My wife is calling me every day wanting to kiss and hold her son for the one last time,” Ali Hassan said, breaking down at a news conference earlier this month.
At one point, he was considering pulling his son off life support to end his suffering when a hospital social worker put him in touch with CAIR, which sued the State Department on Dec. 16.
Shaima got her waiver the next day, arriving at her son’s side on Dec. 19.
“With their courage, this family has inspired our nation to confront the realities of Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban,” said Saad Sweilem, a lawyer with the council who represents the family. “In his short life, Abdullah has been a guiding light for all of us in the fight against xenophobia and family separation.”
Contributing: Associated Press