Several U.S. airlines are taking the moral high ground, refusing to transport children separated from their families because of immigration policy — and that really riles federal officials.
“It’s unfortunate that (American, United and Frontier airlines) no longer want to partner with the brave men and women of DHS to protect the traveling public, combat human trafficking, and to swiftly reunite unaccompanied illegal immigrant children with their families,” Tyler Houlton, the Department of Homeland Security spokesperson, wrote on Twitter.
“Despite being provided the facts on this issue, these airlines clearly do not understand our immigration laws and the long-standing devastating loopholes that have caused the crisis at our southern border.”
Houlton accused airlines of “buckling to a false media narrative,” adding that they are contributing to the “problems at the border” and putting more children at risk for sex trafficking.
“We wish the airlines would instead choose to be part of the solution,” the statement concluded.
The condemnation comes after American Airlines said the “zero tolerance policy” being enforced at the border “is not at all aligned with the company’s values.
“We have therefore requested the federal government to immediately refrain from using American for the purpose of transporting children who have been separated from their families due to the current immigration policy,” their statement reads.
“We have no desire to be associated with separating families, or worse, to profit from it. We have every expectation the government will comply with our request.”
United issued a similar statement, saying the “company’s shared purpose is to connect people and unite the world. This policy and its impact on thousands of children is in deep conflict with that mission and we want no part of it.”
Both airlines said that as far as they know, no children separated from their families have been shuttled by any of their planes.
Over the weekend however, a flight attendant claimed that she spotted 16 such children on a red-eye flight from Arizona to Miami last week.
“Sixteen. All dressed in black and gray cheap Walmart sweatsuits, quietly boarding the 12:30 a.m. Children! Thirty-two scared eyes looking straight forward dazed. We try to speak, yet none speak English.” reads a Facebook post, claiming to share the story on behalf of the unnamed flight attendant.