The Trump administration continues to face the fallout from its notorious “zero tolerance” policy as three commercial airlines have asked the government to not use their airplanes to transport migrant children.
American, United, and Frontier airlines have declared they will no longer partner with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for the deplorable family separation process.
“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. We have no desire to be associated with separating families, or worse, to profit from it," American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said in a statement.
JUST IN: American Airlines has requested that the US federal government "immediately refrain from using American for the purpose of transporting children who have been separated from their families due to the current immigration policy." pic.twitter.com/AWl6BKDBJS— NBC News (@NBCNews) June 20, 2018
Later, United Airlines released a similar statement by announcing it had “contacted federal officials to inform them that they should not transport immigrant children on United aircraft who have been separated from their parents.”
United asks U.S. government not to fly separated immigrant children on our aircraft. pic.twitter.com/MPPbhO6aqV— United Airlines (@united) June 20, 2018
Subsequently, Frontier Airlines was the next in line that didn’t want to be associated with President Donald Trump’s policy of breaking up families.
Frontier prides itself on being a family airline and we will not knowingly allow our flights to be used to transport migrant children away from their families. At this time, we are not aware if Frontier has been used for this purpose.— Frontier Airlines (@FlyFrontier) June 20, 2018
The three airlines claimed they were not aware of whether any migrant children travelled in their flights.
However, Alida Garcia, the coalitions and policy director at the advocacy firm FWD.us, challenged United’s assertions on Twitter. Activists recounted there were five immigrant kids on flight with her this week.
Though the airline haven’t responded to the objection, there is a very real possibility, officials and staff were kept in dark about the presence of migrant kids on the flight.
As just recently, a flight attendant for a major U.S. airline wrote in an op-ed about how an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent on flight initially lied about the children and said the kids were traveling as part of a soccer team.
“When pressed, the agent finally admitted that they were, indeed children who were being relocated to assigned camps,” wrote the attendant, Hunt Palmquist.
Palmquist gave a heartbreaking account of how the children’s faces “were full of fear, confusion, sadness and exhaustion” and that he was left “somewhat traumatized” after realizing he could have been a complicit in separating them from their families.
He also said he would no longer work on flights separating migrant families.
“This inhumane separation of migrant children from their families is against the morals and principles instilled in me, as well as my religious and spiritual teachings,” Palmquist wrote.
“This is not the American citizen that I was raised to be nor the one that I will embrace. What we are experiencing is painful, unnecessary and completely unacceptable and I feel somewhat ashamed that it took me this long to process these feelings,” he continued. “I keep kicking myself for not trusting my gut and walk off of both of those flights.”
The airlines' stance didn’t sit well with DHS press secretary Tyler Q. Houlton as he blasted the companies in a series of bitter tweets in which he lectured them about patriotism.
It’s unfortunate that @AmericanAir , @united, and @FlyFrontier 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 Q. Houlton (@SpoxDHS) June 20, 2018
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.— Tyler Q. Houlton (@SpoxDHS) June 20, 2018
Buckling to a false media narrative only exacerbates the problems at our border and puts more children at risk from traffickers. We wish the airlines would instead choose to be part of the solution.— Tyler Q. Houlton (@SpoxDHS) June 20, 2018
However, the Trump administration currently is in no position to tell corporations how they should behave, considering their well-documented inhumane practices in dealing with the migrant families.
Meanwhile, The New York Times reported hundreds of migrant children were reportedly discreetly flown to New York, thousands of miles away from their parents. One of the kids was less than a year old.
Just recently, amid the widespread backlash, Trump backed down on a widely-resented immigration policy, signing an executive order to end the separation of children from their parents when immigrant families are caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally.
Banner Image Credits:REUTERS/Brendan McDermid