A group of six teenage Afghan girls with a passion for science trekked 500 miles from their home of Herat to the violence plagued capital city of Kabul all with the hope of competing in the U.S. But they won’t be coming to the country any time soon.
The girls had hoped to obtain a one-week travel visa to the U.S. to take their robot to the FIRST Global Challenge, an international robotics competition happening in Washington, D.C., later this month. Despite their efforts, their visa request was rejected, Forbes reported.
Roya Mahboob, Afghanistan’s first female tech CEO, helped introduce the six girls to robotics. And the teens’ passion for competing became readily apparent when they made the 500 mile trek ― twice ― to the American embassy in Kabul. It’s a magnificent feat in and of itself, as they risked death in a city that just last month saw more than 150 killed in a truck bombing.
When they got news their visas would be denied, the girls were “crying all the day,” Mahboob told Forbes.
As Forbes points out, getting a visa to travel from Afghanistan to the U.S. isn’t easy. State Department records show the country gave out less than 100 business travel visas to traveling Afghans in April.
The denial of the girls’ visas comes as President Donald Trump continues his crack down on travel from other Muslim-majority countries to the United States. Starting last Thursday, Trump again enforced his ban days after the Supreme Court partially reinstated the ban on travel and immigration by citizens of six majority-Muslim countries: Libya, Somalia, Iran, Yemen, Sudan, and Syria.
The robot the teens created will still get to compete in D.C., with the girls watching on a video conference from Herat.