We appreciate that the girls robotics team from Afghanistan was recently allowed to travel to the US for a robotics competition. There are important diplomatic reasons to grant their entry into the US.
However, this only highlights several inconsistencies within the Trump administration. Carl C. Risch was just nominated as head of Consular Affairs, the bureau that handles visas. Risch is on record opposing using visas for diplomatic purposes and has supported moving Consular Affairs out of the State Department, from its traditional diplomatic role, to DHS or another security agency. This is in direct opposition to Trump’s recent support for the robotics team. The Trump administration should be clear about its views on Consular Affairs and how it views visas. https://diplopundit.net/2017/06/23/ex-fso-who-once-advocated-moving-visas-to-dhs-may-be-the-next-asst-secy-for-consular-affairs/
For some background, the visas were initially denied based on laws passed by Congress and most visa applicants from Afghanistan are denied. Visa officers are required to deny visas if there is a risk that the applicant will claim asylum in the US and that risk is higher with Afghanistani applicants because of the conflict there. Also, decisions made by visa officers are supposed to be unreviewable to keep those officers from facing political or other pressure to grant or deny visas. Some of these rules may need to be revisited.
Risch’s nomination is now with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. If you are concerned about this issue, please contact Bob Corker. It is always acceptable to contact the chair of a Senate committee about a committee matter even if she isn’t one of your state’s Senators. https://www.foreign.senate.gov/
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