American Airlines and United Airlines on Wednesday asked the federal government not to use their airlines to transport children who were separated from their families under a controversial immigration policy.
The airlines responded after reports that claimed migrant children separated from their parents were transported on some flights.
President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he planned to sign an executive order that aims to keep together migrant families who were detained after they tried to enter the U.S. illegally. But the policy has put the spotlight on U.S. airlines that are regularly contracted by the U.S. government.
The Houston Chronicle published on Tuesday an adapted Facebook post by Hunt Palmquist, whose bio said he is a Dallas-based flight attendant for a major U.S. carrier. He said that “little children whose faces were full of fear, confusion, sadness and exhaustion left me somewhat traumatized as it occurred to me a few weeks later that I might as well have been a collaborator in their transport.
“I will immediately remove myself from the trip due to the nature of this unconscionable act by my government and my employer’s complicity,” he wrote.
Another Facebook post that said it was passed along from a flight attendant said more than a dozen migrant children appeared to have been transported on an overnight flight from Phoenix to Miami.
American Airlines said it had “no knowledge” the federal government used the airline to transport migrant children who were separated from their parents under the immigration policy but asked the government to “immediately refrain” from using the airline for that purpose.
“We have no desire to be associated with separating families, or worse, to profit from it,” American Airlines said in a statement. “We have every expectation the government will comply with our request and we thank them for doing so.”
The carrier said it has carried refugees for nonprofits and the government.
United CEO Oscar Munoz said the airline has not seen any evidence that these children separated from their parents were flown on United’s planes, but the airline said it told the government it “should not” transport migrant children who were separated from their parents on its flights.
“Our company’s shared purpose is to connect people and unite the world,” Munoz said in a statement. “This policy and its impact on thousands of children is in deep conflict with that mission and we want no part of it.”
The immigration policy has shaken some airline crew members, as well.
“This national discussion and response is being felt on the planes and discussed among crews. Some are struggling with the question of participating in a process that they feel deeply is immoral,” said Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, the labor union that represents flight attendants at United Airlines, Alaska Airlines and others.
“Airlines are often a first point of contact for any public debate on these issues because all of society passes through our aircraft,” Nelson said.
Source : CNBC