United and American Airlines want no part in separating children from their families at the U.S./Mexico border.
Both airlines spoke out on Wednesday to ask government officials to refrain from using their flights to transport migrant children who have been removed from the care of their parents under the current “zero tolerance” immigration policy.
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“We have . . . 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,” the airline said in a statement released Wednesday. “We have no desire to be associated with separating families, or worse, to profit from it.”
The airline has a contract with the federal government to provide transportation for various purposes, and the government in turn, does not have a responsibility to disclose what they are, United clarifies in the statement. However, they say, “We have every expectation the government will comply with our request and we thank them for doing so.”
The release states, “The family separation process that has been widely publicized is not at all aligned with the values of American Airlines — we bring families together, not apart.”
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United’s controversial CEO Oscar Munoz followed with a similar statement on behalf of his company.
“At United Airlines, we have been concerned about reports that commercial airlines have been used to transport immigrant children separated from their parents by a newly implemented immigration enforcement policy,” he said. “Based on our serious concerns about this policy and how it’s in deep conflict with our company’s values, we have contacted federal officials to inform them that they should not transport immigrant children on United aircraft who have been separated from their parents.
He added, “Based on some research we have done internally and public reports, we have not seen evidence these children have been flown on United aircraft.”
According to CBS, American’s statement was seemingly issued in response a Facebook post shared by a woman who says she is the friend of a flight attendant with the airline. The message detailed how sixteen children, aged approximately 6 to 11 and dressed in matching black and gray sweats, reportedly boarded a flight out of Phoenix at 12:30AM on June 15.
The message says in part: “We are trained yearly in hundreds of possible scenarios as attendants. Something like this isn’t remotely one of those. I had only met one of my crew a few years earlier, the rest never. Thank God, we had one another to lean on to not only get through the flight, but also maybe some glimmer of hope for those babies.”
The Arizona Republic reported that the flight mentioned in the Facebook post was likely operated by American based on the flight time, route and other factors, CBS points out.
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The statements come amid an overwhelming backlash against the current immigration policy that has resulted in 2,342 children being separated from their parents since May after crossing the Southern U.S. border.
On Wednesday, President Trump said he would sign an executive order reversing the policy.