A team of six Afghan girls was refused US visas to attend an global robotics competition in Washington D.C. They made the journey and interviewed twice, only to have their requests denied, Forbes reports.
When the girls found out they'd be denied entry to the country, they cried all day, said Citadel founder Roya Mahboob, who organized the team.
On their competition page, the teen girls wrote: 'We want to make a difference, and most breakthroughs in science, technology, and other industries normally start with the dream of a child to do something great. Escotto stressed that the organization worked very closely with the State Department in seeking to get visas for teams from all countries attending the competition, and he called the State Department "instrumental" in helping throughout the visa process.
After making a 500-mile journey to the USA embassy in Kabul to apply for visas, an embassy which had been targeted in recent bomb attacks, the girls were notified their applications had been denied.
After risking their lives twice to get their U.S. Visas to just come over and compete, they were denied. But one roadblock prevented them from competing in person in the USA - visa approvals.
Afghanistan is not on U.S. President Donald Trump's travel ban list. Team Afghanistan will watch their robot compete via Skype, and a video of the team will be played in their honor.
FIRST Global president and former congressman Joe Sestak is disappointed by the news.
The team was set to compete in the FIRST Global Challenge, an annual worldwide robotics event that aims to get young people - though not exclusively girls - excited about STEM fields.
Mahboob said that founding the team sent an important message in Afghanistan. "Just three weeks ago, those supplies cleared customs". But she said when the girls heard that their visa applications had been rejected, "they were crying all the day". The visa is a hard one to get: Forbes reports that State Department records show that only 32 of the visas needed were issued in Afghanistan previous year. "And having them not be here for that is certainly very saddening I think in many ways".
Due to Afghanistan's continued instability, the girls had to wait months for their robotic parts to be allowed through customs over fears it would be used by ISIS.
Meanwhile students from Iran, Iraq, and Sudan have all been granted visas to compete in the event.