Patterico's Pontifications


President Trump Helps Afghan Girls Gain Entry To U.S. For Robotics Competition

Filed under: General — Dana @ 2:11 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Credit where credit is due: President Trump has intervened on behalf of a group of Afghan girls who had hoped to come to the U.S. to participate in a robotics competition. Originally,the girls were twice denied visas by the State Department:

They seized the chance to study in a country that has long denied that advantage to many girls. They excelled in science and technology – a male-dominated field. And they competed successfully to represent their country against some of the brightest young minds in the world.

But, after overcoming these improbable odds, a robotics team of six Afghan girls found a hurdle they couldn’t clear: the United States government, which denied them visas to attend the robotics competition in Washington, DC.

The robot they built is being shipped to the US, but the girls will participate via Skype. Almost all other teams were allowed in, including those from countries barred under the US travel ban, such as Iran and Sudan.

It is unclear why they were denied visas. Afghanistan is not one of the countries targeted by President Trump’s travel ban. Perhaps it was due to concerns that if granted visas, they would not comply with visa laws and overstay, or maybe a backlog of applications led to the denials, or perhaps there was concern that they would end up seeking asylum:

Over the past couple years, as more Afghans have joined an exodus intensified by the country’s insecurity and economic uncertainty, obtaining visas has become much more difficult out of fear that visitors would become asylum seekers. Many young Afghans, particularly on student and visit visas, also often cross the border to Canada, knowing that the asylum process is much easier there than in the United States.

Upon hearing of the girls’ plight, President Trump personally stepped in to find a way to allow the team to enter the U.S.:

The president became aware of the case and asked officials at the National Security Council to see what they could do. After those officials talked to counterparts at various agencies, the Department of Homeland Security agreed to allow the girls in on a system known as “parole,” which will allow them to stay in the United States for 10 days, though technically not on visas. The parole authority is used in exceptional circumstances, senior administration officials told POLITICO.

In this case, it was determined there was a significant public benefit to letting the girls in, the officials said.

The girls, now granted entry, will participate in the competition beginning this weekend. What a wonderful opportunity for them, especially given the number of hurdles they had to overcome to get to this point in their journey:

The girls, who are from western Afghanistan’s Herat area, reportedly leaped over multiple obstacles to build a ball-sorting robot for the FIRST Global Challenge, which is set for July 16-18 in Washington, D.C.

Equipment sent to them got stuck in customs, so they improvised and used household items instead. To apply for their visas at the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan, they traveled hundreds of miles — twice — to Kabul, the Afghan capital, despite facing potential dangers on the road.

To see these intrepid young women coming to the U.S. to participate in a robotics competition speaks volumes, especially as one bears in mind that not that long ago, when under Taliban rule, only a mere 3% of Afghan girls were able to receive some sort of education.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


29 Responses to “President Trump Helps Afghan Girls Gain Entry To U.S. For Robotics Competition”

  1. We need some good news.

    Dana (023079)

  2. Populist cries for ‘the beeyootiful babies and Afghani femininity seems like the exception that proves the Rule. After all, he IS a a Man of the 38%.

    Ben burn (b3d5ab)

  3. Cool beans.

    Lenny (5ea732)

  4. The parole authority is used in exceptional circumstances, senior administration officials told POLITICO.

    isn’t that the same way the russian hooch got in?

    happyfeet (a037ad)

  5. As far as Russian hooch (not the alcoholic kind) can go, woof :<

    urbanleftbehind (5eecdb)

  6. So let’s see: we have tight border controls, and in very hard luck cases some senior government officials (including, in this case, the President) intercede to help worthy foreigners have an opportunity to visit our great country. Sounds to me like the system worked quite well in this case.

    JVW (f3eb8a)

  7. Yeah, that’s what we’ve been missing. Robot suicide bombers.

    nk (dbc370)

  8. Maybe that’s step one toward fulfillment Golda Meir’s famous quote. Just instigate a beef with Japan, that way its robot-on-robot.

    urbanleftbehind (5eecdb)

  9. 6. JVW (f3eb8a) — 7/13/2017 @ 2:37 pm

    Sounds to me like the system worked quite well in this case.

    That is the opposite of a system

    And why didn’t he intervene in the case of the Iranian dctor and his family detained at Logan Airport? Not enough publicity? Publicity only in blue states? Too blatant an intervention?

    Sammy Finkelman (02a146)

  10. I think the bureacrats really don’t like to have their determinations overruled (so they can look less arbitrary and randon) and Trump has bene cautioned about it. And here they technically did not overule them.

    Sammy Finkelman (02a146)

  11. It’s hard to be against this on an emotional level but, combined with the report that Trump wants to cut legal immigration in half, it’s hard not to feel like we’ll have a system that can be gamed by the most appealing immigrants with the most persuasive sponsors.

    I don’t like that, but I support legal immigration so I am not Trump’s target audience.

    DRJ (15874d)

  12. it’s hard not to feel like we’ll have a system that can be gamed by the most appealing immigrants with the most persuasive sponsors

    Somehow I am reminded of Charlie Gard. Just substitute “patient” for “immigrant”.

    kishnevi (1a529d)

  13. Or perhaps this was passive-aggressive action in the State Department.

    Kevin M (752a26)

  14. Good luck kids!

    Hope to see you on the podium with prizes standing next to Al Gore with his lifetime achievement award.

    harkin (f5f8af)

  15. The thing is, it would be nice to be able look at this situation in a limited way: just six girls from a hellhole of a country momentarily being able to escape it and see up close, and likely for the only time in their lives, what and who America is. Unfortunately, nothing happens in a vacuum. Especially in matters political. Like this.

    Dana (023079)

  16. Unmarried girls/women from developing countries have huge trouble getting visas on the assumption that they’ll come here looking to get married and stay.

    To get a visa they have to go and show pictures and tell a story about the reasons they’ll come back.

    It’s a bit weird, frankly, but it’s a well established thing.

    Bob (5aad12)

  17. As far as the vetting of those traveling into the U.S. on visa applicants, there is this today:

    The U.S. State Department will require all nations to provide extensive data to help it vet visa applicants and determine whether a traveler poses a terrorist threat, according to a cable obtained by Reuters.

    Countries that fail to comply with the new protocols or take steps to do so within 50 days could face travel sanctions.

    The cable, sent to all U.S. diplomatic posts on Wednesday, is a summary of a worldwide review of vetting procedures that was required under U.S. President Donald Trump’s revised March 6 executive order that temporarily banned U.S. travel by most citizens from six predominantly Muslim countries.

    The cable asks that U.S. diplomats “underscore that while it is not our goal to impose a ban on immigration benefits, including visas, for citizens of any country, these standards are designed to mitigate risk, and failure to make progress could lead to security measures by the USG, including a presidential proclamation that would prohibit the entry of certain categories of foreign nationals of non-compliant countries.”

    Dana (023079)

  18. Guess it’s a lot easier than to teach’em to fly a 767.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  19. Greetings:

    So, me, I’m thinking that if it’s “a male-dominated field” then aren’t men dominating other men ???

    11B40 (6abb5c)

  20. there should be no phrase more terrifying to a fat-ass tatted-up semi-literate american union turd than “robotics competition”

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  21. That Iranian researcher is,actually a,basij official sammeh

    narciso (d1f714)

  22. Curiouser and cyrioser


    narciso (d1f714)

  23. Reporter: So what does this part of the robot do?

    Afghani Girl 1: You put your weed in there.

    Pinandpuller (1f75ea)

  24. Weed for the return trip, perhaps. I would think opium coming in.

    urbanleftbehind (847a06)

  25. The US State department has an inborn prejudice to deny any kind of visa for an attractive woman applying from a poor country.

    I’ve run into this over and over in the past 3 decades.

    Steven Malynn (d29fc3)

  26. Sometimes, news like this is better.

    Gmail QA (857948)

  27. 26, hopefully the most interesting man in the world way, and not the mail order bride way.

    urbanleftbehind (5eecdb)

  28. So will the Afghan government provide them with security for the next, say, twenty years? I don’t think using Afghans would do it. They’d have to hire some mercs from the west.

    Richard Aubrey (0d7df4)

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