U.S. Ambassador Denies Kenyan Children a Visa, Tweeted About It

Hello, this is Anna from IMS.


Recently, on June 26, America’s Ambassador to Kenya, Kyle McCarter posted a tweet (seen here), of himself pictured with two children who were applying for U.S. visas. The caption describes the children, whose full faces were pictured, as national chess champions in Kenya. The caption also says that their trip to the United States was “not possible at this time”. The tweet ends with the reassurance that the school children “are still champions” are that he and the children are “still friends”.

There was outrage online from across the world that resulted from this photo, for a range of different reasons. (in addition to the many tweet replies, articles on this event can be seen here, here, and here). Some called into question the ethics of posting the faces of two minors online; while others criticised the fact that the Ambassador was quick to the photo op in spite of the fact that he was the one involved in denying their visa. In any case, happily smiling next to children whose travel to the U.S. has been denied has not been viewed by many as good professional practice.

In the tweet replies, the Ambassador has assured viewers that permission to take the photo was received by the children’s parents, but has not disclosed what about their situation granted reasonable denial, or any other comments regarding their ineligibility to visit the United States. In the replies,m he defends his actions by saying he posted the photo to “console” the children because “their visa situation was not going to change” (here). He has also defended his actions by telling people that they need to “better manage their expectations on visas” (here). There has been no official statement regarding this issue by Ambassador McCarter or the U.S. Embassy in Kenya.

Ambassador McCarter is a recent appointee and has only been the acting Ambassador for a few months since the beginning of 2019. Many are pointing to his appointment by Donald Trump, and his ten-year stint as a Republican senator in the Illinois General Assembly in the fallout from this incident. Politically motivated or not, there is still great concern over this seemingly strict decision; some are worried about what these types of appointments mean for not only the children in the photo but for those like them all over the world being denied opportunities like this.