Objecting to President Donald Trump’s policy of splitting up families who illegally entered the country, three U.S. airlines told the government not to use their planes to transport federal agents accompanying migrant children separated from their parents at the border with Mexico.
Trump has since reversed the policy.
American, United and Frontier airlines all balked at ferrying U.S. immigration workers as part of contracts they have with the government. American said in a statement that the separation of children from their parents “is not at all aligned with the values” the company believes in.
One airline attendant, Hunt Palmquist, wrote this week in the Houston Chronicle that he was on two recent flights carrying immigration officials and migrant children to shelters.
After realizing the children were being relocated away from their parents, Palmquist vowed to walk off future flights if more federal immigration agents were on board to transport migrant children, “due to the nature of this unconscionable act by my government and my employer’s complicity.”
The Department of Homeland Security called it “unfortunate” that the airlines no longer wanted to transport the agents and the children. The agency said the airlines “clearly do not understand our immigration laws and the long-standing devastating loopholes that have caused the crisis at our southern border. Buckling to a false media narrative only exacerbates the problems at our border and puts more children at risk from traffickers.”
After saying for days that only Congress could end the separation of children from their parents, and amid an intense public backlash, Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday reversing the practice.
“I didn’t like the sight or feeling of families being separated, so we’re keeping families together,” Trump said as he signed the order.