Afghan families in California flood lawmakers’ offices for assistance



An extended line snaked exterior Rep. Eric Swalwell’s Castro Valley workplace final week as Afghan Individuals sought assist from the Democratic congressman to rescue their family members in Afghanistan. One household drove up from Utah.

“It’s been overwhelming for our employees, however they’re dedicated to doing all they will,” Swalwell (D-Dublin) mentioned Tuesday.

After the Taliban’s seizure of Kabul final week following the Biden administration’s abrupt withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, hundreds of Americans and Afghans trapped within the war-torn nation are determined for U.S. assist. Many have turned to Congress for help. However lawmakers say there’s solely a lot they will do regardless of their greatest efforts.

The State Division, which gave all 435 representatives and 100 senators the identical e mail tackle to contact for constituent assist, is in the end answerable for coordinating evacuations from Afghanistan and has been inundated with hundreds of requests. Some lawmakers have turned to volunteer organizations and nonprofit teams for faster help.

Swalwell’s district is house to a big swath of California’s Afghan American inhabitants, whose sturdy and rising presence within the East Bay has contributed to the area’s range. The San Francisco Bay Space is house to roughly 60,000 Afghan Individuals — the best focus within the nation.

Swalwell mentioned his Twitter inbox has been flooded with direct messages from involved constituents searching for help to evacuate their relations. He and his employees members have a textual content message group wherein they share updates about constituents’ circumstances — of which there are over 1,000, he mentioned.

Each Swalwell and Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) have arrange devoted webpages and e mail addresses to help people searching for to flee Afghanistan.

Rep. Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove) mentioned Tuesday that his workplace has submitted greater than 6,500 names to the State Division. He mentioned different members of Congress have reached out to his workplace, together with a colleague who advocated on behalf of three school college students who couldn’t get to the Hamid Karzai Worldwide Airport in Kabul to flee the nation.

“I talked to my constituent companies individual. We reached out on to these three constituents, and so they have been capable of get to the airport and efficiently overseas,” Bera mentioned.


Biden administration officers have mentioned they can not present an actual variety of Individuals nonetheless in Afghanistan, however nationwide safety advisor Jake Sullivan estimated on Sunday that “roughly just a few thousand” have been nonetheless attempting to depart the nation.

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Fremont) represents one of many largest Afghan ethnic enclaves within the nation. Khanna, whose district is house to Little Kabul, has been overtly crucial of the Biden administration’s abrupt withdrawal from Afghanistan.

He tweeted Tuesday that his workplace employees welcomed an Afghan household to Milpitas after they skilled “5 days of trying to fly out of Kabul, plus three extra days of worldwide journey.”

Rep. Scott Peters (D-Coronado) mentioned his district — house to one of many largest veteran populations within the nation — has been hit arduous by the fallout in Afghanistan.

“We’ve got been fielding a number of calls from individuals who know individuals on the bottom,” he mentioned Tuesday. “A few of them are veterans who’ve been very heartbroken by this complete course of.”

Peters mentioned the State Division was a “little sluggish to get up” to the severity of the scenario in Afghanistan. For that motive, he mentioned, his workplace is working with volunteer networks and third-party teams such because the Truman Middle for Nationwide Coverage, which helps evacuate Individuals and allies from Afghanistan.

“I’m actually, actually frightened, appalled and embarrassed as an American that that is how this has been executed,” he mentioned.


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