There are California students still stuck in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover
Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Wednesday, Oct. 6. I’m Justin Ray.
In August, as the Biden administration began what would become a chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, we learned that some California students and their families were stuck in the country.
San Diego County students who had been unable to flee first made headlines. Then, it was discovered that Sacramento-area students were in the same predicament. The last U.S. planes departed around midnight Aug. 30, though not every American citizen was able to make it aboard.
Although the San Diego students’ situation was the most discussed, there appear to be more students from around Sacramento still in Afghanistan. The situation is ever-changing, but here’s what I was able to find out about the remaining students:
There are dozens of Sacramento-area families still in the country, according to the San Juan Unified School District. Recently, three families — including seven students — made it back to the U.S. But about 38 students are still there.
“We continue to remain hopeful of their safe return soon,” Raj Rai, director of communications for the school district, told me last week.
The nearby Sacramento City Unified School District told The Times that an Afghan immigrant family with three children enrolled at Ethel I. Baker Elementary sought help in fleeing. The students have not yet returned to the school.
“We are closely working with our congressional representatives, and appreciate their tireless efforts to help these students and their families,” Sacramento City Unified Supt. Jorge A. Aguilar said in a release. “We remain hopeful that our students will soon be able to safely leave Afghanistan, come home to the U.S. and return to school in Sacramento.”
San Diego-area students
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Bonsall) — who has been very critical of the Biden administration on social media — has aided in coordinating evacuations. His spokesperson Jonathan Wilcox gave The Times a statement about a parent and four students from the Cajon Valley Union School District who remain in Afghanistan:
“We are tracking one remaining El Cajon family unit, and it includes El Cajon schoolchildren. We’ve provided their names, documents and other detailed information to the State Department on numerous occasions [emphasis his] — as well as discussed them with [the State Department] repeatedly. Congressman Issa and his team continue to press official channels including State, DOD, DHS, and the White House on a daily basis.”
A State Department spokesperson told The Times: “We have assisted 105 U.S. citizens and 95 lawful permanent residents (LPRs) to depart Afghanistan. These are the numbers of people whose individual departures we directly facilitated.”
Regarding Wilcox’s comment, the spokesperson said that “due to privacy considerations, we are unable to comment on specific cases. We are first focusing on U.S. citizens with immediate family members who are ready to depart and have travel documents. We will then more intensively focus on the subset of U.S. citizens with immediate family members for whom documentation has been an issue, to find ways to assist them.”
And now, here’s what’s happening across California:
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POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT
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CRIME AND COURTS
In a California desert, sheriff’s deputies settle schoolyard disputes. Black teens bear the brunt. According to data that California law enforcement agencies are required to publish under the terms of a law aimed at combatting racial profiling, sheriff’s deputies in the Antelope Valley have disproportionately detained and issued citations to Black teens on public school campuses. An analysis by KPCC/LAist and ProPublica found that Black teenagers accounted for 60% of the deputy contacts on campuses but made up only about 20% of the enrollment in those schools. Propublica
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HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT
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Today’s California memory is from Carol Bartlett:
In the 1950s, we played in the acres of orange groves in the O.C. Periodically, the ranchers irrigated by flooding the furrows between the rows of trees, and it took 3 or 4 days for the water to percolate into the ground. Whoopee! We sloshed barefooted through “canals” of thick, knee-deep mud, pretending we were exploring jungles & alert for lurking crocs & gators. Leaving our jungle, we’d surreptitiously hose off at the first house we came to with a garden hose in front.
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