Trump urges officials to allow Afghan girls into United States for robot contest

14 July, 2017, 00:17 | Author: Essie Rivera
  • Hoshang Hashimi—AFP

Teenagers from the Afghanistan Robotic House, a private training institute, practice at the Better Idea Organization center, in Herat, Afghanistan.

Politico reported that President Donald Trump prompted US officials to reverse course and allow the Afghan team to participate in the worldwide competition.

The teenagers were denied access to the US under the president's executive order on travel after making multiple trips to their country's capital depsite the dangers of the war-torn region.

The Department of Homeland Security agreed to let the girls in.

The initial visa denial for the Afghan team was met with complaints from human rights organizations and questions about if the US was walking away from previous efforts advocating for educational opportunities for young women in Afghanistan, wrote the Post.

Officials say the administration could not be prouder of these young female scientists.

Teams from Gambia, Yemen and Libya were also given the green light to attend, with their visas having previously been denied.

The Afghan girls, who have been preparing for the competition for six months, didn't lose hope when their visa applications were first denied.

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It was unclear why the girls were barred entry to the U.S.in the first place.

Politico, which broke the story Wednesday evening, reported that President Donald Trump had personally intervened and asked officials at the National Security Council to take action.

Afghanistan is not included in Trump's travel ban, but it's tremendously hard, bordering on impossible, for its citizens to obtain a visa.

"I look forward to welcoming this brilliant team of Afghan girls, and their competitors, to Washington DC next week!"

While many critics believed anti-Muslim sentiments buoyed by Trump policies were to blame, the exact reasons for the team being denied are unclear.

The president's daughter, Ivanka Trump, greeted the girls by posting a tweet on Wednesday.

"I am most grateful to the US Government and its State Department for ensuring Afghanistan, as well as The Gambia, would be able to join us for this worldwide competition this year", said the president of the First Global organization, Joe Sestak.

First Global, a not-for-profit charity, holds the annual worldwide robotics challenge in hopes of sparking a passion for science and technology among high school students around the world. Roya Mahboob founder of software company Citadel who organized their interview told that the girls were very disappointed and they were crying all day.

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