Monday, July 17, 2017
President Trump Intervenes to Ensure that Robotics Team from Afghanistan is Issued Visas, Can Compete in Global Robotics Competition in the US
Here is a much-needed "feel good" immigration story -- and, in a turn of events that might surprise some, President Trump helped make it happen.
Moriah Balingit of the Washington Post reports on the inspirational journey to the United States of a group of young women from Afghanistan who will be participating in the FIRST Global Robotics Challenge. Their dream of traveling to what has been billed as the “Olympics of Robotics” had been shot down when their visas were denied, despite two grueling trips from their home in Herat to Kabul for interviews with the U.S. State Department. Invoking the doctrine of consular nonreviewability, the State Department refused to comment about why the visas were initially denied. After the story made international headlines, President Trump intervened to ensure that the visas were issued. The Afghani robotics team arrived in the United States on Saturday.
Balingit reports on the competition:
"The three-day competition draws teams from 157 countries — and some multinational teams representing continents. One group — Team Hope — is composed of refugees. FIRST has long hosted competitions in the U.S., but this is the first year it is hosting an international competition. The team representing the U.S. is composed of three girls, who marched into the auditorium for the parade of nations to the Woody Guthrie song `This Land is Your Land.'”
The team from Gambia also reportedly had issues with their visas, according to the Associated Press, before their applications were also ultimately approved. Because of sanctions, Global FIRST was unable to ship a robotics kit to Iran, where a group of teenagers was awaiting the parts to build a robot.