A Yemeni woman prohibited from entering the United States under President Trump's travel ban arrived in San Francisco on Wednesday night to see her dying 2-year-old son, who was being treated at a Bay Area hospital.
Shaima Swileh was mobbed by well-wishers and press at San Francisco International Airport, but she did not speak. The woman, who has been trying to enter the country for more than a year, her supporters say, was granted a visa waiver Tuesday by the U.S. State Department following intense media attention.
Her son, Abdullah Hassan, who suffers a genetic brain condition, was brought to the United States for treatment by Swileh's husband and the boy's father, Ali Hassan, 22, an American citizen living with family in Stockton, California.
Hassan addressed the crowd Wednesday night, thanking "people all over the world for their support."
"This is a difficult time for our family," he said. "But we are blessed to be together."
Swileh is a Yemeni national now living in Cairo, Egypt, after fleeing her country's ravaging civil war.
Officials with the Sacramento chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said they have filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration to seek a visa for the woman.
They said without this very public battle it's unlikely Swileh would have been able to see her boy.
"Tonight is bittersweet," Basim Elkarra, CAIR's executive director in Sacramento, told reporters. "It didn't have to come to this."
Despite 28 emails to State Department officials, he said, the family received only "automated responses" to requests for Swileh to see her son one last time.
Trump's travel ban applies to seven nations, five of which are predominantly Muslim: Libya, Iran, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. The others are North Korea and Venezuela.
Earlier in the week, Elkarra said that witnessing Hassan "caressing his dying child's hand" at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital in Oakland, California, was "one of the most heart-breaking things I've seen."