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Unread 07-01-2017, 12:47 PM
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Afghan team denied visas to compete in US

An all-female robotics team from Afghanistan has been denied visas to compete in the FIRST Global Challenge 16-18 July 2017, in Washington DC. Full article here:https://www.forbes.com/sites/hilaryb.../#1c4a7f4f367f

Anyone who wishes to help, contact your Representative or Senator, or sign one or both of the petitions below.
Any other ideas/help appreciated!

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/pet...am-compete-usa

https://www.change.org/p/us-state-de...a-by-july-16th
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Unread 07-01-2017, 12:53 PM
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Re: Afghan team denied visas to compete in US

Also see Will the international travel ban effect any FRC teams?

Perhaps a moderator wants to merge posts #33 and on in that thread with this.
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Unread 07-01-2017, 01:54 PM
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Re: Afghan team denied visas to compete in US

Quote:
Originally Posted by jaredhk View Post
Also see Will the international travel ban effect any FRC teams?

Perhaps a moderator wants to merge posts #33 and on in that thread with this.
The travel ban has nothing to do with the visa being denied.
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Unread 07-01-2017, 02:04 PM
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Re: Afghan team denied visas to compete in US

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anon10W1z View Post
The travel ban has nothing to do with the visa being denied.
His point in linking the threads is that discussion of these events are already occurring in that thread
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Unread 07-01-2017, 02:14 PM
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Re: Afghan team denied visas to compete in US

Quote:
Originally Posted by jaredhk View Post
Also see Will the international travel ban effect any FRC teams?

Perhaps a moderator wants to merge posts #33 and on in that thread with this.
I thought about that too.
I just went ahead and put the links for the petitions in that thread.
Please feel free to quote/share/spread the word. I think we might be able to keep this apolitical/non-partisan!
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Unread 07-01-2017, 10:00 PM
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Re: Afghan team denied visas to compete in US

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anon10W1z View Post
The travel ban has nothing to do with the visa being denied.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lil' Lavery View Post
His point in linking the threads is that discussion of these events are already occurring in that thread
Correct. My point is that there is already an ongoing discussion regarding the denial of the visa over on another thread. That thread clearly did get a little off topic but it has been made pretty clear over there that the two topics are not related.
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Unread 07-01-2017, 10:02 PM
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Re: Afghan team denied visas to compete in US

When has one of these petitions ever changed anything?

It's sucks but afghanistan has had the lowest rate of visa approval of anywhere. A petition isn't gonna change the state department's mind.
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Unread 07-01-2017, 10:25 PM
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Re: Afghan team denied visas to compete in US

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mk.32 View Post
When has one of these petitions ever changed anything?

It's sucks but afghanistan has had the lowest rate of visa approval of anywhere. A petition isn't gonna change the state department's mind.
You are probably right.
I doubt anything is going to change in the next 15 days, but I felt like I wanted to try something.
My hope is that this sets up some data for better resolution of future similar problems, which are bound to occur.
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Unread 07-02-2017, 12:49 AM
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Re: Afghan team denied visas to compete in US

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mk.32 View Post
When has one of these petitions ever changed anything?

It's sucks but afghanistan has had the lowest rate of visa approval of anywhere. A petition isn't gonna change the state department's mind.

In the macro sense, no this petition isn't going to change the State Department's approach to issuing Visas to Afghans.

In the micro scale, public awareness of a specific visa disapproval can change results. The State Department typically does not face widespread public scrutiny of individual visa cases, so having that scrutiny applied here could very well pressure the state department into reversing their decision.


And if you're genuinely curious about petition changing things and not just trying to be confrontational, you can look here.
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Unread 07-02-2017, 01:27 AM
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Re: Afghan team denied visas to compete in US

Thanks!
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Unread 07-02-2017, 01:59 PM
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Re: Afghan team denied visas to compete in US

A message from FIRST Global President, Joe Sestak:
All, I wanted to share with you my letter to those leaders and mentors of the 164 nations’ teams that are directly involved in FIRST Global.
Respectfully, Joe Sestak.

Everyone,
As the head of FIRST Global, I felt it incumbent upon me to let so many caring teams know about Team Afghanistan after many offered support for their attendance when we recently learned that this wonderful team was not able to obtain visas. No one is more saddened than me. Throughout my various careers, I have been convinced of the importance of education. Even when I was briefly in Afghanistan in 2001, I came to understand that while our military might stop terror, it would take other efforts -- such as fixing the high illiteracy rate of Afghan women at that time -- to fix such a problem.
That is why I accepted the opportunity to head FIRST Global: to convene the nations of the world toward a common purpose of education and, therefore, cooperation. It will help our future young leaders also learn that what we have in common is greater than the ways in which we differ. Therefore, I want you to know the following:
While we at FIRST Global worked very hard directly with Team Afghanistan for several months – after we had sought an all-girl Muslim team to be the team – no one did more to ensure success for FIRST Global than the U.S. Government’s State Department. Thus far, 156 teams have received approval to participate in FIRST Global, and only six nations still have visa interviews remaining to be done. This is extraordinary.
You know from our incessant calls and emails with you how diligently we worked with every country – 64 of whom have historic visa refusal rates of 40% and higher -- to ensure their participation. Meanwhile, beginning last December the State Department worked equally hard by sending a memorandum out regarding FIRST Global -- with your names included in it -- to every one of its stations. They then immediately answered every question you raised with us and they requested second interviews for several nations that did not gain approval the first time – including Afghanistan. All but one of those countries subsequently received approval. Iran, Sudan and Team Hope (Syrian refugees) all will now participate in FIRST Global even though they are on the Executive Order on travel recently reinstituted in the United States.
The support of the U.S. State Department (including its embassies) has been simply nothing short of amazing. I was deeply saddened about the Afghan team not getting visas, for as I told so many of you during our phone calls, I was going to be so proud when I watched these young, brave Muslim girls lead the 164 nations’ teams into Constitution Hall, the Hall of “We the People” here in America. And yet I know that the team was given a fair opportunity, a very fair opportunity, by the U.S. State Department.
While not privy to the exact reasons undergirding the decision, I know first-hand that the war environment is both turbulent and dynamic in Afghanistan. Visa decisions are often made regarding many whose lives are endangered; for example, those Afghans who supported US forces (such as by being interpreters) and who now seek a precious visa to the nation they supported because otherwise their own safety is in danger. This is compounded by the low number of visas available within the nation to begin with.
I bring this up because although I am saddened by what occurred, I also want all of you to know that there was no prejudice or politics made in the decision regarding that brave team of Afghanistan’s youth. The proof of that is how successful FIRST Global has been in the visa process when the historic refusal rate in so many of your nations was just as high as Afghanistan’s – and even higher.
Last month I spoke with Team Afghanistan – as I also did the day after they did not gain approval a second time. I reminded them that I was prepared to ship their robot back to America, where a group of young Afghan girls here in the United States would learn to operate their completed robot on the practice field we already built for them. And then on July 16 – as these Afghan girls in America walk proudly up the ramp into Constitution Hall to lead all of your nations into that historic building – we would “Skype” in their teammates still in Afghanistan on the big screen inside the Hall so everyone can see them watching us, as we are also able to watch them.
I welcome your chorus of support for them, and my own eyes will work overtime to keep dry that night – but that is how we must now honor our fellow teammates, those brave girls from Afghanistan… by our making FIRST Global about all of us, our whole community…as well as, but not just, about this. That night we will be equally honoring Team Gambia, the only other team that did not gain visa approval – as they are also proudly shipping their robot to us to be operated by Gambian-American students in Washington, D.C. They, too, are coming together over “Skype” with us during the Opening Ceremony to emphasize the one whole community we are all part of.
From Iran to famine-stricken South Sudan, each and everyone of you will walk into Constitution Hall on July 16th… where we are convening the world’s nations by bringing their future leaders together. And I ask you to remember why: because we have more in common than we do in differences.
I thank you for having taught me a lot the past six months about the wonderful peoples throughout this globe. I could not be prouder than to have my own wonderful homeland, the United States of America, host you for this inaugural FIRST Global event.
Very respectfully, Joe Sestak
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Unread 07-02-2017, 02:08 PM
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Re: Afghan team denied visas to compete in US

The Forbes article is getting extremely popular. I keep seeing it pop up again on my Twitter feed every few hours.
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Unread 07-02-2017, 02:34 PM
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Re: Afghan team denied visas to compete in US

Quote:
Originally Posted by RoboMom View Post
A message from FIRST Global President, Joe Sestak:
Was this posted anywhere, or just emailed? Would like to be able to share a link to it.
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Unread 07-02-2017, 04:49 PM
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Re: Afghan team denied visas to compete in US

Wait, FIRST Global is lead by Admiral Sestak? That's awesome.
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Unread 07-02-2017, 05:31 PM
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Re: Afghan team denied visas to compete in US

Quote:
Originally Posted by dcarr View Post
Was this posted anywhere, or just emailed? Would like to be able to share a link to it.
Posted on the FIRST Global facebook page. You can link it there.

Update: FIRST Global already has a team of several Afghani girls to stand in for Team Afghanistan, a local practice field and the robot is on it's way to the US. If you would like to help volunteer for Global: http://first.global/getting-involved/volunteers/
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