SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — Congressman Darrell Issa, Cajon Valley Union School District officials, and the families who made it out of Afghanistan held a news conference Thursday to talk about their on-going efforts to bring the one remaining stranded family home.
The Cajon Valley Union School District said there’s still one more family waiting to leave Afghanistan after several returned to the U.S. The Secretary of State said there are fewer than 200 Americans who didn’t make it out but the exact number is still being determined.
Congressman Issa and other local leaders have spent weeks coordinating their safe return. But now that troops have left Afghanistan, it's more difficult.
"The biggest problem right now is that it is far too dangerous to try to go hundreds or a thousand miles across land borders and none of the borders are really truly open," Issa said.
While visiting relatives over the summer, six families including 24 students from the Cajon Valley Union School District were caught in the chaos as U.S. troops began withdrawing to meet the August 31st deadline.
The school district released a brief statement Wednesday, saying:
"Cajon Valley Union School District Family and Community Liaisons confirmed that there are a total of 38 people rescued, 19 of those individuals are Cajon Valley students. One family with three students was left behind in Afghanistan and we are exploring strategies to rescue and bring them home."
The district is of course holding out hope that all of its students will return to San Diego County, as our military leaders work to bring Americans still there back to the U.S.
The Biden Administration is still being heavily criticized for its handling of the withdrawal, but the president said he is committed to protecting America from any future threats from Afghanistan. Biden said he is using diplomatic and economic pressure to make sure the Taliban lives up to its word and allows U.S. civilians to leave.
E. L. says escaping Afghanistan was a dream come true for him and his family. "Every day there were 10 to 15 people dying in the crowd. No chance for a family with a baby of 4 years old and a wife because there were thousands of people at the gate and people were dying under the feet. I was trying to use all options I can. I was trying to think, 'If I go to Pakistan, maybe I can get a flight from there. Or if I go to Uzbekistan. But when I tried all of those routes too, the embassies were all closed." His children range in age from 4 to 14 years old. "They're now okay, they're good. They're recovering now. They're in school so they're happy now. Their dream of coming back to America has come true."
Now that they're safe, E. L. says, the US needs to help the hundreds of other families still stuck in harm’s way. "There are many other people over there stuck in their houses. They need help. The situation is very bad. It's very dangerous for the people who work there."
Yousaf Nurastani says he, his family and his several of his colleagues barely made it out alive. "There were concerns that some parts of Afghanistan were falling down, but we didn't think it would fall in 15 days. They escorted them to the airport and this happened 8 hours before the explosion." His plea like all the other evacuees at Thursday’s event, is for the us government to help those left behind. And that number could be in the thousands because so many are afraid. "Some of the dead has been at the hands of the Taliban and they will get harmed if they aren't evacuated as soon as possible."
WATCH RELATED: San Diegan Afghan woman shares her terrifying story of escaping the Taliban