Afghan Girls Robotics Team Allowed To Enter US For Competition
16 July, 2017, 00:26 | Author: Essie Rivera
The team of six will be showcasing robots they've created at the inaugural FIRST Global Challenge, a three-day competition at the DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., featuring robotics teams from around world.
A team of Afghan girls who were earlier denied visas to attend a Washington robotics competition landed in the United States early Saturday following an intervention by US President Donald Trump.
"We worked hard and spent a lot of time", said Qaderian, who flew back and forth with her teammates from their hometown in western Afghanistan to apply at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.
But the USA president urged a reversal following public outcry over the Afghan girls' inability to attend the event, according to U.S. media, with the decision announced Wednesday.
However, the US State Department had earlier declined to comment on why the Afghan team's visa applications were denied, saying that "all visa applications are adjudicated on a case-by-case basis in accordance with USA law".
"The President of the United States and the people of America supported us in this case, which shows that they have not forgotten us", one competitor, Yasamin Yasinzadah told AFP at the airport in Herat.
It remains unclear why their visa were initially rejected, but the US administration has imposed a travel ban on most people from six predominantly Muslim countries including Syria and Yemen, but not Afghanistan.
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State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert would not divulge why this team alone ran into issues, citing the confidentiality of the process.
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 US capital.
Over 160 countries will attend the worldwide robotics challenge which will be held in Washington from July 16. When their visas were refused, they planned to compete via Skype.
The ordeal has a happy ending but still meant an arduous, emotional journey for the team.
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A native of Bakersfield, Calif., Cotton-Moya led the team with three takeaways and tied for the team lead with two interceptions. Exclusive coverage from the event will also be available on the Big 12's digital platforms - Big12Sports.com.
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