Afghan girls fly to U.S. for robotics fair

Violet Powell
July 16, 2017

The six girls from Herat, Afghanistan, were reportedly blocked from attending the robotics competition even after two rounds of interviews for a one-week visa.

An all-female team of Afghan teenagers finally boarded a plane to attend a USA robotics competition Friday, after intervention from President Donald Trump.

All six girls packed into a small taxicab to head to the U.S. Embassy with their passports in hand to get their U.S. visa. The teenage girls were granted special entry to the United States along with the members of team Gambia, whose travel visas had also been previously denied by the U.S. State Department.

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 US had earlier refused to grant Visa to these girls in Afghanistan.

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The girls from Herat, Afghanistan, ages 14 to 16, became a cause celebre this week when news spread that their visa applications, first submitted in May, had been rejected.

There isn't an explanation as to why the team was initially rebuffed, but they are now bound for the event thanks to the DHS allowing them to have "parole" status, which means they can enter the United States precisely because of the public benefit their mere presence would garner for the nation, via the report.

Competing against entrants from more than 150 countries, the girls will present a robot they devised that can recognize blue and orange and sort balls into correct locations.

"Seventeen years ago, this would not have been possible at all", said Afghan Ambassador Hamdullah Mohib. The decision would allow the six girls from the war-torn country into the United States, along with their chaperones, so they can participate in the competition. "It's an important step for Afghan women". Gambia's team, which designed a robot to clean contaminated rivers, also faced visa problems but was permitted last week to travel to the U.S.

"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", Joe Sestak, the president of First Global, was quoted as saying by AP. AP reports that girls had been deeply disappointed by the initial rejections. "Go girls!", tweeted State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert.

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