Thursday, 27 July, 2017

Afghan Girls Robotics Team Land In US After Visa U-Turn

When Trump came to know about the case he intervened and decided to grant the visas to the girls When Trump came to know about the case he intervened and decided to grant the visas to the girls
Howard Terry | 16 July, 2017, 00:22

AFGHANISTAN: A team of Afghan girls who had been denied visas to attend a Washington robotics competition spoke of Donald Trump's support Thursday after USA authorities changed course and allowed them to come.

A coalition of academic and educational groups recently wrote to the State Department about Trump's visa crackdown and said, "We are very concerned that if the proposed changes are implemented, global undergraduate and graduate students, scholars, and scientific collaborators may be discouraged from coming to the United States".

A members of a female robotics team from Herat province, shows her U.S. Visa as she leaves Kabul to the U.S. from Kabul Airport, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Jun 14, 2017.

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.

"The girls' story has also renewed the focus on the longer-term USA plans for aiding Afghanistan's future, as Trump's administration prepares a new military strategy that will include sending more troops to the country where the US has been fighting since 2001". The young engineers will be allowed entry under a protocol known as "parole", in which they will not be given formal visas but can remain in the United States for no more than 10 days. Then to apply for visas, they traveled twice to Kabul - site of a bombing on May 31 that killed 150 people - and their applications were rejected. When their visas were refused, they planned to compete via Skype.

"Seventeen years ago, this would not have been possible at all", said Afghan Ambassador Hamdullah Mohib. "It's an important step for Afghan women". One team from each country is invited to participate, like an Olympics of high school robot builders.

The girls are working on a robot that can sort balls, which will compete against 163 other machines in a tournament called the FIRST Robotics Competition.

"We want to take the message of peace to America and convey that Afghanistan is not only the country of war, and there are girls who chase their dreams in robots and education", added Fatema Qaderyan.

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 spokesperson Heather Nauert would not divulge why this team alone ran into issues, citing the confidentiality of the process.

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