President Donald Trump has reversed a decision to deny visas to six Afghan girls hoping to participate in an international robotics competition next week.
The State Department, which dismissed the girls’ visa requests at least twice, had elicited criticism, prompting the White House to step in.
Dina Powell, Trump's deputy national security advisor for strategy, said, “The State Department worked incredibly well with the Department of Homeland Security to ensure that this case was reviewed and handled appropriately. 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.”
When Trump was informed of the situation, he enjoined officials at the National Security Council to effect a change. That triggered the Department of Homeland Security to allow the girls on “parole,” which will allow them to stay in the United States for 10 days.
The girls, hailing from western Afghanistan’s Herat area, built a ball-sorting robot for the FIRST Global Challenge, held between July 16-18 in Washington, D.C.
After applying for visas at the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan, they twice made the trek to Kabul, the Afghan capital, even though the presence of the Taliban could have been a mortal danger.
The girls wrote on their team page “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.”