An all-girls robotics team from Afghanistan, who were denied entry into the U.S. twice, have finally been approved entry to compete in a competition.
According to ABC News, the team — consisting of six girls and their chaperone — completed their journey shortly after midnight on Saturday at the Dulles International Airport outside of Washington, D.C. It was at this point that President Trump gave the go-ahead for the team to enter the U.S.
The team was denied entry into the U.S. twice, for unknown reasons. President Trump's approved ban on travelers from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from entering the country, but should not affect visas for Afghanistan. Though Afghanistan isn't included in President Trump's travel ban, some see the visa issues these girls faced as an extension of his administration's policies, which have been deemed as prejudicial and hostile to specific countries and groups of people.
Though the official reason for the team's previous twice denials into the country hasn't been publicly disclosed, this case has renewed the focus on what longer-term U.S. plans for aiding Afghanistan's future will look like. This is in addition to the news of Trump launching a new military strategy in the region, as reported by CBS News, raising questions about what the U.S./Afghanistan relationship will be in the near future.
The team is competing in the inaugural FIRST Global Challenge, where teams from all over the world have gathered to showcase robots that they have created over the course of three days. Among those waiting for the team's safe arrival was Afghan Ambassador and U.S. Special Envoy Hamdullah Mohib, who saw the team's entrance into the US as a rare moment for celebration. In an interview with CBS News, he said:
"Seventeen years ago, this would not have been possible at all. They represent our aspirations and resilience despite having been brought up in a perpetual conflict. These girls will be proving to the world and the nation that nothing will prevent us from being an equal and active member of the international community"