Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Bonsall, Friday announced the evacuation from Afghanistan of an American citizen who worked as a U.S. Army translator and his wife.
"Today, we can celebrate another American family we have helped escape from Afghanistan," Issa said. "But the celebration can't last too long because we have much work to do and hundreds of Americans to bring home to their loved ones."
The former translator, Prince Wafa, traveled to Afghanistan to bring his wife home as the Taliban overran the Afghan National Army and retook control of the country this summer. On Aug. 31, the U.S. military officially withdrew from Afghanistan, ending a 20-year conflict that started shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Wafa, a small business manager in San Diego, said his wife would not have been able to leave their native country of Afghanistan if he had not traveled there himself.
"I am so grateful to Congressman Issa and his team for their dedication and nonstop effort to help me and my wife leave Afghanistan and come home to America," he said.
Issa pointed blame at the administration of President Joe Biden, which he claims "abandoned" Wafa and others like him.
"Prince Wafa provided outstanding support for our troops and bravely served our country when we were in need," Issa said. "This time, he risked all by returning to Afghanistan to bring his wife home. The Biden administration left them behind and we didn't rest until they were on their way home."
Wafa contacted the U.S. State Department on Aug. 29 to ask for instructions on how to get out of Afghanistan shortly after arriving. He then contacted Issa's office.
Issa's office has helped evacuate nearly 40 members of his district from Afghanistan since the Taliban regained power.
Earlier this month, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a plan for Afghan refugee housing and resettlement.
Supporting a proposal by Supervisor Joel Anderson, the board also directed the county to work with Congress to utilize frozen Taliban assets to pay for Afghan refugee resettlement activities.
"East County, (which) I represent, has a large population of Afghans and others with Middle Eastern heritage," Anderson said after the board vote. "The actions taken today will help guarantee clear communication and coordination among government and nonprofits to provide the resources needed to protect these vulnerable individuals."
According to Anderson's office, an estimated 58,000 Afghans are expected to arrive in the U.S., many of whom were forced to leave their homes without their possessions.
While the exact number of Afghans resettling in California is unknown, it is likely that they will settle in communities where they have friends and families, according to Anderson's office.
While the county doesn't have a direct role in determining how many Afghan refugees will resettle in the county, Anderson said it is critical to be ready -- through its Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs -- to handle the incoming refugees.
The country is now under the control of the Taliban, and the U.S. Treasury Department froze the majority of $9.5 billion in Afghanistan government assets.
Board chairman Nathan Fletcher, a Marine who was deployed to Iraq in 2004, said it was important for the U.S. government to keep its word to the Afghans who helped U.S. forces for 20 years.
He added that before they step on U.S. soil, Afghans are vetted by numerous U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies, and later screened again by U.S. Customs officials.