Airlines Refuse To Transport Immigrant Children
American Airlines has issued a statement asking the U.S. government to “refrain from using American for the purpose of transporting children who have been separated from their families due to the current immigration policy” on Wednesday. United and Frontier have taken similar positions. Whether they can legally prevent the government from using their services in such a way is uncertain.
All three airlines stated that they are not aware that their aircraft have been used to transport immigrant children separated from their families, but that the new immigration policy conflicts with their companies’ values. “We have no desire to be associated with separating families, or worse, to profit from it,” the statement from American said. “We have every expectation the government will comply with our request and we thank them for doing so.”
Tyler Houlton, a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), said via Twitter that the airlines’ decision not to partner with DHS was “unfortunate.” He added that “Despite being provided 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.”
The immigration policy in question, which was announced in April, emphasizes “zero tolerance” for illegal immigration, resulting in the referral of 100 percent of illegal border crossing cases to the Department of Justice for prosecution. It has been estimated that more than 2,000 children have been separated from their families under the policy. The President signed an Executive Order on Wednesday that he says is aimed at curtailing the separation of families while still maintaining a “very strong border.”