A Trump Intervention and the Afghan Girls Robotic Team

Politico reports that a team of Afghan girls hoping to participate in an international robotics competition in the U.S. next week were twice denied visas by the U.S. State Department. But the girls are now going to be allowed into the country and will participate in the FIRST Global Challenge robotics competition thanks to the intervention of resident Donald J. Trump.

Mashable reports President Trump intervened and asked officials at the National Security Council if there was anything that could be done to allow the team of girls into the country.

According to Politico 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:

Parolee – A parolee is an alien, appearing to be inadmissible to the inspecting officer, allowed into the United States for urgent humanitarian reasons or when that alien’s entry is determined to be for significant public benefit. Parole does not constitute a formal admission to the United States and confers temporary status only, requiring parolees to leave when the conditions supporting their parole cease to exist.

The parole authority is used in exceptional circumstances. Officials determined there was significant public benefit to letting the girls into the U.S. for the competition.

Some had argued that the visa denials sent the wrong message to the people of Afghanistan, where U.S. troops are still fighting Taliban militants who once barred girls from attending school and undercut the administration’s insistence that it cares about empowering women globally.

The fact that the girls are representing Afghanistan in the contest shows how far female education there has come since the U.S.-led invasion toppled the Taliban from power in 2001

The FIRST Global Challenge robotics competition will take place July 16-18 in Washington, D.C. Around 160 countries are sending teams to participate in the contest.

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Dan Spencer

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