The families from El Cajon in east San Diego County had been visiting extended family in Afghanistan over the summer, arriving many weeks before the Taliban takeover
By NBC 7 Staff
Seven of the eight San Diego-area families stranded in Afghanistan during the chaotic Taliban takeover are expected to arrive home soon, Congressman Darrell Issa said.
“This could end at any time and that is one of the reasons we are trying to them out,” Issa told NBC 7 San Diego on Wednesday night. “We don’t want any Americans to be one of those people clinging to the helicopter at the end.”
Within those local families stuck in Afghanistan are some students from the Cajon Valley Union School District in San Diego’s East County community of El Cajon. The district confirmed earlier this week that the families of the students – who attend various schools in the area – had reported the kids wouldn’t be able to start the school year on Aug. 17 because the kids and their parents were in Afghanistan, unable to get out of the Kabul airport.
The families had traveled separately to Afghanistan for summer vacations to see their grandparents, cousins and other relatives. Most of the families came to the United States on a special immigrant visa after having worked for the U.S. government or U.S. military in Afghanistan, officials said. The visa allows only the person and their spouse and children.
Many of the families left in early May and June, months before the crisis unfolded and the president of Afghanistan fled as the Taliban seized power, officials said.
“Just like you and I, they had used the summer to go back to see their relatives,” CVUSD Superintendent David Miyashiro said. “No one felt that were going to be unsafe or unable to return.”
The superintendent said the families are particularly scared because of the upcoming Aug. 31 deadline for the United States to end its withdrawal.
On Wednesday, one of the San Diego area families – six local students and their mom and dad – were able to safely return to Southern California, a liaison working with the families told NBC 7. Details about how they got back to the U.S. were not immediately released.
There are at least 18 other CVUSD students spread across five families still trying to get home. The children range from preschoolers to high school students, the Associated Press reported.
Some have witnessed shootings and other violence in and around the Kabul airport in recent days, said Fraidoon Hassemi, the CVUSD’s community liaison.
“They are in home where they feel not safe because they have door-to-door canvassing going on,” Issa told NBC 7.
The congressman said his staff has been in constant communication with the CVUSD families. He expects to have anywhere from two to five more of the families back in San Diego County by Thursday.
Via social media and messaging apps like WhatsApp, Issa said his office had learned of dozens more San Diego area families stranded in Afghanistan. He planned share the information with the State Department and the White House.
“We’re trying to grab as much information as we can including passing on information about the sites they will be going to, so if something happens and we lose communication with them, we want them to still go to those points,” he added.