East Bay Congressman Eric Swalwell held his first live town hall meeting since the pandemic Friday, and it was a lively one.
Questions from the audience ranged from mask mandates to infrastructure. But there were quite a few pleas from Afghans who now live there to help to get their families out of Afghanistan.
From the start of the town hall, Swalwell got face to face requests for help.
Azizi recently arrived in Hayward from Kabul, Afghanistan, two weeks ago. He's watched in horror as his country unraveled into chaos since he's been there and hopes the congressman can help him get his parents and little sister out.
“Since last week, I don't have any contact with any of them because there has been no internet. They are just in the basement of our home,” said Azizi.
Swalwell said his office has already fielded about 6,000 Special Immigrant Visa requests in the past two weeks, compared with typically about 1,000 for an entire year.
His district includes Little Kabul in Fremont, which is the biggest population of Afghans outside Afghanistan.
And along with people asking for help to get loved ones out, some wondered how they can help those who will soon be arriving.
There were plenty of people who criticized President Joe Biden's handling of the troop drawdown in Afghanistan -- and even shouted anti-immigrant chants.
For his part, the congressman said he supports the decision to leave.
“I'm not ever going to forget, ever in my life, about Afghanistan,” said Swalwell. “But I'm just telling you that I don't want to send another service member from the United States to die in Afghanistan.”
Still, the fear and anger of some who don't know what's happening with their loved ones is clear.