Afghanistan's all-girl robotics team lands in DC after visas denied twice

The Afghan girls previously denied visas to compete in an global robotics competition on Sunday were allowed into the us early Saturday morning thanks to last-minute intervention from President Donald Trump. "We applied again for the USA visa and we were rejected again".

Trump only "acted" after the girls' visas had been denied twice, and the story had brought bad publicity to his Muslim ban. 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.

"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.

U.S. authorities had originally refused access to schoolchildren from a number of Muslim-majority nations to participate in the science contest, decisions that followed implementation of stricter visa policies under Trump.

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Neither the president nor anyone on the White House staff have provided an official explanation as to why the team's visa applications were rejected twice, but critics cited Trump's travel ban - partially reinstated by the Supreme Court in late June - as the likely cause. The young engineers will be allowed entry under a protocol known as "parole", in which they will not be given formal visas but can remain in the United States for no more than 10 days.

"Seventeen years ago, this would not have been possible at all", Mohib said in an interview. When their visas were refused, they planned to compete via Skype.

First Global president Joe Sestak - who had previously expressed his disappointment in the girls' visa denial - has commended the USA government for overturning the ban.

The six members of Afghanistan's all-girls robotics team arrived at Kabul airport from their home in Herat in western Afghanistan.

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The ordeal has a happy ending but still meant an arduous, emotional journey for the team. "That is why I am most grateful to the U.S. Government and its State Department for ensuring Afghanistan, as well as Gambia, would be able to join us for this global competition this year".

"We continued working on our robots to show that Afghan girls are capable of doing big things", Mehraban said.

Earlier this month, a team of girls from Afghanistan were getting ready to go to the First Global Challenge robotics competition in the USA and, in the process, making history for girls and women in the war-torn country.

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