She is expected to arrive on Wednesday evening
(SACRAMENTO, CA, 12/18/18) -- The Council on American-Islamic Relations, Sacramento Valley office (CAIR-SV), announced this morning that a "Muslim Ban" visa waiver has been granted for Shaima Swileh, the mother of a dying 2-year-old who is on life support at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital in Oakland. She is expected to arrive in the Bay Area on Wednesday night.
The State Department granted the waiver Tuesday morning after the family's story spread across the news and social media.
"This is the happiest day of my life," said the boy's father and Swileh's husband, Ali Hassan. "Just last week I was about to pull him off life support and CAIR-Sacramento Valley stepped in to help. I can't thank them enough and all those who answered the call to help our family. I want to thank UCSF Benioff Hospital for the loving care they have provided my son. This will allow us to mourn with dignity."
Swileh is expected to arrive at San Francisco International Airport at around 7:35 p.m. PST Wednesday.
CAIR representatives will hold a short press conference.
"We request that media and supporters offer her privacy when she arrives tomorrow night," said CAIR-SV Civil Rights Attorney Saad Sweilem, who is representing the family. "She is a grieving mother who hasn't seen her child in months."
WHAT: Press conference
WHERE: San Francisco International Airport, International Arrival Terminal
WHEN: Around 8 p.m., subject to change depending on flight timing and arrival. For the latest updates, check the CAIR-Sacramento Valley Facebook page.
A CAIR-SV news conference on Monday, along with advocacy efforts by CAIR and MPower Change, prompted thousands of Tweets, 15,000 emails to elected officials and embassy staff, and intense media pressure and public outcry. Also, members of Congress wrote their own letters urging action.
In addition to organizing a public media campaign, CAIR-SV partnered with Nimer Law, LLC, to file an emergency lawsuit in federal court yesterday and had prepared to file for a temporary restraining order today
if the visa was not issued. Swileh was initially interviewed for her visa while the proclamation was enjoined, and the lawsuit alleges that the embassy in Cairo purposely delayed a decision on her application
until the Muslim Ban proclamation went into effect, at which time they informed Swileh that she was denied under the proclamation.
Under the provisions of the proclamation, once a visa is denied consular officers are required to automatically assess whether or not individuals from the banned countries qualify for a waiver. As the spouse of a U.S. citizen and the mother of a U.S. citizen child with a life-threatening medical condition, Swileh clearly met the criteria for a waiver. However, despite the family’s repeated requests to expedite and clearly documenting their son’s medical condition, the embassy refused to act until CAIR-SV brought media attention to their plight and filed a lawsuit.
“This case is a perfect example of how the waiver process is a sham,” said Jennifer Nimer, one of the family’s attorneys. “The lawsuit filed yesterday clearly details for the court how the embassy callously ignored over 28 desperate pleas for help from the family over the past year and even the expedite requests filed by the prior attorney which contained medical documentation showing that the child was on the verge of death. Ms. Swileh met all the criteria for a waiver yet they refused to take any action for over a year until public pressure mounted and forced them to take action.”
"We are so relieved that this mother will get to hold and kiss her son one last time. The public outpouring of support for this family was incredible," said CAIR-SV Civil Rights Attorney Saad Sweilem. "Our happiness for the family is tempered by the imminent loss of Abdullah and the fact that he could have been receiving comfort from his mother for many additional days or weeks if the U.S. government had not enforced its racist Muslim Ban, or if Embassy staff had not required a massive public mobilization to commit an act of humanity.
There are still many more families being separated and many more lives at stake due to the xenophobic policies of this administration."
Abdullah was brought to California by his father months ago to get medical treatment due to a genetic brain condition that has continued to worsen. Abdullah and his father are U.S. citizens.
Swileh is a Yemeni national who currently lives in Egypt. She was unable to come to the United States to be with her ailing child and her husband because of the Muslim Ban. She had applied for a waiver and multiple expedite requests before CAIR got involved in the case.
Doctors have indicated Abdullah's body may not be able to withstand life support for much longer, so it is critical for her to get to California as soon as possible.
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CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.
La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.
Name: Kalin Kipling-Mojaddedi
Title: CAIR-Sacramento Valley Communications Manager
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org