President Donald Trump intervened directly this week when a group of young girls from Afghanistan were unable to enter the country to compete in a US robotics contest.
Politico reports that US officials have reversed their decision to ban a group of Afghan girls from entering the United States following an intervention from President Trump. The girls were set to travel to the US to participate in an international robotics competition but were denied US visas until President Trump stepped in.
Dina Powell, Trump’s deputy national security advisor, issued a statement saying, “The State Department worked incredibly well with the Department of Homeland Security to ensure that this case was reviewed and handled appropriately.” She continued to commend the Afghan girls, saying, “We could not be prouder of this delegation of young women who are also scientists — they represent the best of the Afghan people and embody the promise that their aspirations can be fulfilled. They are future leaders of Afghanistan and strong ambassadors for their country.”
The girls’ initial visa applications were reportedly denied twice, but the reasons for this were not revealed by the State Department citing privacy laws. When President Trump was made aware of this particular case, he spoke to officials at the National Security Council, asking them to see what they could do to rectify the situation.
After these officials talked to multiple agencies, the Department of Homeland Security allowed the girls to enter the country on “parole” which will allow the girls to enter the country for 10 days.
The parole authority is generally used in exceptional circumstances, but it was decided that letting the girls into the country was of significant public benefit. The girls, who are from western Afghanistan’s Herat region, reportedly spent considerable time and overcame many obstacles to develop a robot which they plan to enter into the FIRST Global Challenge taking place in Washington, D.C. from July 16-18. The girls were forced to improvise with homemade items when making the robot after supplies sent to them were stuck in customs. They also traveled hundreds of miles to apply for their visas on two separate occasions.
The Afghan girls’ team page reads, “Most breakthroughs in science, technology, and other industries normally start with the dream of a child to do something great. We want to be that child and pursue our dreams to make a difference in people’s lives.”