All-girl Afghan robotics team denied visa to US for competition

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With the US Supreme Court approving President Donald Trump’s proposal for a travel ban, a six member all-girls team from Afghanistan were denied visas to the US to participate in a robotics competition, even as the contest’s organizers stated that teams from Iran, Sudan, and Syria were granted visas.

While the girls did not receive visa approvals, their robot has been allowed entry to the US and will participate in the FIRST Global competition. The Afghan team will watch their ball-sorting robot compete in Washington D.C. via video from their hometown in Herat, Afghanistan. The US State Department stated that it does not discuss individual visa cases when asked for the reason for the visa denial.

A team from Gambia were also denied visas for the competition.

The US Supreme Court recently approved President Trump’s travel ban in a limited scope and prohibits citizens of Iran, Syria Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen from entering the US. However, the recent visa denial shows that the US State Department still holds discretionary powers when it comes to granting entry to the country and could well cover citizens from nations other than the six listed in President Trump’s travel ban.