Others’ opinion: A fine use of presidential power: granting visas to Afghan girls

Published 5:02 pm Friday, July 14, 2017

Minneapolis Star Tribune

Thanks to presidential intervention, the six-member, all-girl, teenage Afghan robotics team is coming to America after all. Though their U.S. visa applications were previously denied, President Donald Trump stepped in to allow the team to come and participate in an international competition.

Trump’s action demonstrates some welcome understanding of the importance of global exchanges, a refreshing departure from talk of walls and bans to keep “others” out. Sponsored by the nonprofit First Global, the competition has attracted 163 teams from 157 countries — including a team of Syrian refugees. The Afghan team will enter its ball-sorting robot, a machine that can recognize colors and move objects to put them in their correct places.

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After Trump asked about getting the girls visas, the National Security Council said it could allow the girls and their chaperone to enter the U.S. under a temporary parole status that allows a person who is otherwise ineligible to enter for emergency or humanitarian reasons, or because it’s in the public interest.

Hosting this remarkable group in America is certainly a plus for the U.S. The young ladies embody many of America’s most dearly held ideals. They overcame numerous obstacles to achieve their goals, including making two arduous, 500-mile journeys from their war-torn home region to the U.S. Embassy in Kabul to apply for visas. And they did it all in a nation that is considered the most difficult and dangerous in the world for girls and women, where education for females is rare and even hazardous.

The young ladies from Afghanistan are exemplary role models for girls in America and all over the world. Congratulations to them and kudos to the president for helping them to compete in the U.S.