Three U.S. airlines said Wednesday they don’t want the government to use them to assist in some parts of immigration enforcement, in the latest protest to the family separation situation on the border.
American, United and Frontier airlines, which have contracts with Homeland Security to fly people in immigration detention, said they have no idea if they are being used for the purpose — but lodged their objections anyway.
“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, and we thank them for doing so,” American Airlines said in a statement.
Homeland Security fired back, saying the airlines didn’t know what they were talking about, and were caving to “a false media narrative.”
“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,” said Tyler Q. Houlton, the department’s press secretary.
Homeland Security sends people in immigration detention to destinations across the country and the globe, both when moving people around within the U.S. and sending them back to their homes once they’ve been ordered deported.
The airlines said they didn’t know whether any of the children or parents from the border situation are being flown.
“Our 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,” United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz said.
Frontier, meanwhile, called itself a “family airline” and said it wouldn’t “knowingly allow our flights to be used to transport migrant children away from their families.”
In reality, it would be difficult to know whether a child flown under a Homeland Security contract was separated from a family at the border.
Thousands of children show up at the border each month without any parents, and they are flown to Health Department-run dorms around the country.
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