The six Afghan girls will be granted visas to enter the U.S to participate in a global robotics contest.
Robotics Team To Get U.S Visas After Trump Intervenes
U.S officials will grant visas to a group of Afghan girls so they can participate in an international robotics competition after President Donald Trump intervened, a White House official said on Wednesday, the Associated Press reported.
The reported stated White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed the decision Wednesday, ending a saga that had sparked international backlash.
"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," said Joe Sestak, the president of First Global.
He credited "the professional leadership of the U.S State Department" for ensuring that all 163 teams from 157 countries, including a team of Syrian refugees, would be able to participate.
The State Department dismissed the girls' visa requests at least twice, according to media reports, though, citing privacy laws, it did not spell out its reasons.
One common reason Afghans are rejected for U.S entry is the concern that they will overstay their visas and refuse to go back home.
In meantime, the U.S congressmen Joe Courtney and Suzanne Bonamici on Tuesday sent a letter signed by 53 members of the United States House of Representatives to the U.S Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urging him to issue U.S visas for six Afghan high school girls so they can represent their country at an international robotics challenge in Washington.
“We are alarmed by recent media reports that your department chose to deny visas to six Afghan girls traveling to the United States for FIRST Global, an international robotics challenge to be held in Washington,” wrote the members.
“Barring these hardworking, creative young women from a competition premised on global connection and innovation runs counter to the State Department’s mission of fostering security and stability through peace,” the letter reads.
“As our military leaders know and have said numerous times, vigorous diplomacy complements and strengthens our military efforts around the world – including our longstanding operations in Afghanistan. Save for a legitimate security threat, we urge you in the strongest terms to reverse this decision and welcome these young women to the United States,” the letter added.
The girls said not one of them posed a security threat to the U.S.
The competition, which starts on July 16, is the FIRST Global Challenge - a robotics Olympics dreamed up by Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway.
He founded FIRST - For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology - a program to motivate students in science, technology, and engineering - in 1989.