Wednesday, 23 May, 2018

Robotics team heads to US

Donald Trump intervenes personally, clears visa for Afghan girls heading for robotics event in US Afghan girls fly to US for robotics fair
Sammy Stanley | 16 July, 2017, 00:24

The Washington Post reports they had to take "two 500-mile trips from their hometown of Herat in western Afghanistan to the U.S. Embassy in Kabul" just to apply for visas.

Following backlash from human rights and political activists, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is allowing an Afghan all-girl robotics team to temporarily visit the United States and compete in an worldwide robotics competition taking place in Washington, D.C., next week, Politico reports. "We applied again for the USA visa and we were rejected again".

According to the news agency AP, these girls were given a visa after the recommendation of President Trump. In addition to the Afghanistan team, the visa application of the students of Gambia was also rejected.

Left unmentioned by Conway is the fact the Trump administration is now fighting in federal court to implement a travel ban that would bar nationals of six Muslim-majority countries from entering the US.

Officials may have been wary of granting visas to the girls for fear that they would end up staying in the US, as other students and academics on temporary visas have done before. When their visas were refused, they planned to compete via Skype.

A student team from Gambia also was granted visas last week after initially being rejected.

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"Seventeen years ago, this would not have been possible at all", Mohib said in an interview. "It's an important step for Afghan women". The decision would allow the six girls from the war-torn country into the U.S., along with their chaperones, so they can participate in the competition.

The six-girl team and their chaperone completed their journey just after midnight from their hometown of Herat, Afghanistan, to enter their ball-sorting robot in the three-day high school competition starting Sunday in the USA capital.

"We just wanted to show the power and skills of Afghan girls to Americans".

"I truly believe our greatest power is the power to convene nations, to bring people together in the pursuit of a common goal and prove that our similarities greatly outweigh our differences", he said.

Upon visa rejection, the Afghan girls say they had given up hopes to attend the fair, and had instead braced for joining it via video link.

State Department officials do not comment on individual visa cases, but experts speculated that consular officers could have denied the visas out of concern that the girls could attempt to remain in the United States.

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