Officials in a California school district where students had already been rescued from Afghanistan believe there could “easily” be a thousand more still stuck in the country after being left behind.
Representatives from the Cajon Valley Union School District have kept in touch with Representative Darrell Issa’s office about the situation.
Based on conversations with their contacts in the Taliban-controlled country and families of those affected, they estimate more than 1,000 American students and children of Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders may still be in Afghanistan.
Cajon Valley spokesperson Howard Shen made the startling suggestion during a press conference Thursday.
“There are easily a thousand more students — American born or children of SIVs — still trapped in Afghanistan,” he said.
Last week, the Los Angeles Times reported that “at least 24 students from the Cajon Valley Union School District in El Cajon and 16 parents are stranded in Afghanistan.”
The families, according to the newspaper, had traveled to Afghanistan on special visas for U.S. military service and had been visiting on summer vacation.
An Associated Press report on Wednesday had indicated the missing consisted of 8 families of students, 7 of whom have since been rescued from Afghanistan.
Issa (R-CA) though, indicated along with the district officials that there is more that needs to be done to get the rest home.
“Yes, there has been some success, and we’re delighted to have these kids back in school and their parents, united,” Issa said.
“But we also know that there’s a lot more work to do and that working through official channels and with foreign countries and with unofficial channels is going to take a lot of work.”
Issa believes there may be “thousands” or “tens of thousands” of people still “languishing in Afghanistan” or “neighboring countries waiting to come” home to America.
Despite reports surfacing of an untold number of students and children being stuck in Afghanistan, President Biden has hailed his withdrawal effort as an “extraordinary success.”
He’s gone so far as to imply that any Americans still stuck in Afghanistan are there because of their own decisions.
The federal government, he said, had “reached out 19 times to Americans in Afghanistan, with multiple warnings and offers to help them leave.”
In reality, access to Kabul airport where Americans and these students would have had to travel to escape Afghanistan was riddled by security issues due to Taliban control.
A fact underscored by a suicide bombing that took the lives of 13 service members and was reportedly aided by the perpetrator slipping past a Taliban checkpoint.
President Biden has said, “We remain committed to get them (Americans) out if they want to come out.”
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby has said, “We don’t believe the effort is concluded,” when discussing those left behind in Afghanistan.
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