Up to 24 students at the Cajon Valley Union School District in El Cajon, California and 16 of their parents were stranded in Afghanistan after they took a summer trip in the country, which in recent weeks was taken over by the Taliban militant group.
While the families were set to leave the country and had secured tickets for their flights out, they could not get to the airport as Taliban forces had closed off access to most people in Kabul to prevent deadly stampedes and chaos.
"The biggest concern is that the Taliban closed the airport," Cajon Valley School Board President Tamara Otero told the Los Angeles Times. "We are so worried about our students that are stuck there. We'll do the best we can to get them out."
Cajon Valley Supt. David Miyashiro informed school district board members on Tuesday that he and other Cajon Valley staff met virtually with Republican Representative Darrell Issa about the three dozen American students and their families unable to board flights from Afghanistan.
Miyashiro reported that the families are on "special visas for U.S. military service and that the Department of Defense considers them allies." He added that the district provided information on the stranded families and that government officials are already working to locate them in Afghanistan.
"Congressman Issa and his staff are working diligently to determine the facts on the ground, any bureaucratic barriers that can be removed, and the best ways to help those stranded leave Afghanistan and return home safely," a spokesperson for the congressman said, as reported by Breitbart. "We won't stop until we have answers and action."
The over three dozen Americans are not the only ones struggling to get return flights from Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover. At the American University of Afghanistan, thousands remain trapped and only 50 people had gotten to safety. There are about 1,200 more people who need to be evacuated.
Reporters say that they remain to be "Taliban targets" as long as they stay at the university, which "has had difficulty getting help in evacuating its people out."
The U.S. has only until August 31 to evacuate all American citizens and its allies from Afghanistan. The Taliban stood firm in forbidding an extension of the pullout of U.S. troops and its allies.
During a press conference on Tuesday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid stressed that the Biden administration will be in "violation" of the promise to end its occupation in Afghanistan if they continue to pull out citizens beyond the August 31 deadline, CNBC reported. Mujahid said it would mean "extending occupation" if the U.S. went beyond its deadline.
"They [the Americans] have the opportunity, they have all the resources, they can take all the people that belong to them," Mujahid said during the press conference. "Foreigners are allowed to go."
However, the Taliban has now prevented Afghan nationals from accessing the airport and leaving the country. The Taliban spokesperson said that they prohibited Afghan nationals from going to the airport for safety reasons. The Pentagon said that an unknown number of American citizens remain stranded behind enemy lines. An estimate by the White House last week revealed that there were about 11,000 Americans in Afghanistan, with 4,400 successfully flown out to safety.