Author: Julie Watson | Associated Press
San Diego-According to the school district where the children attended, after the Taliban went to Afghanistan to visit relatives in the weeks before the Taliban seized power, more than 30 California children were trapped in Afghanistan and could not leave before the US military left.
Officials from three school districts — one in the San Diego area and two in Sacramento — said on Wednesday that they have been in contact with families worried about being forgotten by the US government. Officials said some of these children were born in the United States and are American citizens.
Almost all children return to Afghanistan to visit relatives with one or both parents in the spring or early summer. These families traveled to the country alone and did not participate in any organized trips.
Many families arrived in the U.S. many years ago after obtaining special immigrant visas issued by Afghans who worked for the U.S. government or the U.S. military for the past two decades.
Some families told school district officials that they had tried to board the plane at Kabul Airport but were unable to pass the Taliban checkpoint or the hordes of Afghans around the airport in the past two weeks. The United States ended its evacuation operation on Monday and withdrew its troops.
In Sacramento, the San Juan Unified School District stated that it has identified 27 students from 19 families in the district who said they could not leave Afghanistan and return home.
“These numbers continue to change rapidly,” regional spokesperson Raj Rai said in an email to The Associated Press on Wednesday. “We believe that some of these families may be transiting through Afghanistan because we have not been able to contact many of them in the past few days.”
Rai said the region is working with elected officials to help these families leave the country.
“San Juan Unified stands with our Afghan community and all relatives who are currently in Afghanistan,” she said. “We sincerely hope that they can return to the United States and our school community quickly and safely.”
The nearby Sacramento Unified School District stated that an Afghan immigrant family with three children attending Ethel I. Baker Elementary School has contacted the area for help to seek help to leave the country.
“I can only say it is heartbreaking,” said regional spokesperson Tara Gallegos.
In the Cajon Valley Unified School District on the outskirts of San Diego, which has a large number of refugees, eight families contacted their children’s school before school started on August 17 and reported that they had encountered difficulties when leaving Afghanistan.
Representative Darrell Issa, Republican of California, worked with government officials in the region and the United States. Seven of the families have left Afghanistan. Most people are now returning to their homes in El Cajon, and some students return to class on Monday.
But Howard Shen, spokesperson for the Cajon Valley Unified School District, said a family is still trapped in Afghanistan.
He said that district officials are contacting family members and trying to help them leave.