Multiple Airlines Come Out Against Separating Families at the Border, DHS Responds

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Update #1: United Airlines and Frontier Airlines have now joined American Airlines in stating that they do not want their airlines to be used to transport children who have been separated from their parents at the border.

Update #2: In response, the Department of Homeland Security states:

It’s unfortunate that American Airlines, 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. 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. 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.

Update #3: Southwest Airlines joined United, Frontier, and American in saying that they do not wish to be a part of the process that separates children from parents. President Trump signed an order ending the policy that was separating children from families at the border this afternoon. Shortly thereafter, Delta Air Lines released a statement that reports of families being separated do not align with their values and they “applaud the Executive Order resolving the issue of separating children from their families at the U.S. border.”

This is a family travel site, and a very large elephant in the room for me lately has been what is happening to the children and families attempting to enter our country. Thousands of children, many in my own border state of Texas, have been taken from their families when they attempt to enter the United States. Over 2,000 immigrant children, even babies and toddlers, are currently living in facilities, warehouses, and what looks like makeshift cages, stripped away from their parents here in the United States of America.

As you may know, not all children in these situations are kept long-term in border states, but instead can be dispersed throughout the country. One of the ways that these children can get from the border states to other places around the country is by plane. A few days ago, social media posts began to bubble up that perhaps sixteen children, ranging in age from about six to eleven years old, had been flown from Phoenix to Miami in the middle of the night on an American Airlines operated flight.

Online reports on social media were that these children did not speak English, that they appeared scared and tearful, and were wearing ‘black and gray cheap Walmart sweatsuits’. The circumstantial evidence made it appear to some that American Airlines was being used to fly children even further away from their families.

American Airlines tells government not to use them to fly children separated from parents at the border

Thankfully, American Airlines is not a willing participant in the family separations happening at the border. Today, American Airlines has issued a statement that says:

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. American, like many U.S. airlines, provides travel to the federal government through contracts; however, the government does not disclose information about the nature of the flights it takes or the passengers who are traveling. While we have carried refugees for non-profits and the government, many of whom are being reunited with family or friends, we have no knowledge that the federal government has used American to transport children who have been separated from their parents due to the recent immigration policy, but we would be extremely disappointed to learn that is the case.

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. We have every expectation the government will comply with our request and we thank them for doing so.

American Airlines also told me directly that they, “…checked our flight records and none match the account circulating on the Internet.” However, they did confirm that a group of children ages 13 to 17 was recently traveling, but that they do not know the reasons for travel. They did not answer my question as to how they will verify they are not flying children taken from their families at the border going forward, but hopefully they have some procedures underway for this.

Sometimes you have the choice of either taking a stand against something or becoming a complicit part of the problem. At least going forward, American Airlines has publicly stated they do not want to be a part of this current government policy of ripping children from their parents at the border. I will not be the least bit surprised to see other airlines follow in their footsteps and also refuse to be a part of this human-caused crisis impacting children and families seeking a better life in this country.


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  1. This practice has been going on for a long time. It started in at least 2009, but I’m guessing prior. Just as a small yardstick on this issue is that 52% of crimes under Obama had been related to illegal immigration and many families have been separated over the years in this process. My guess is that this isn’t the first that AA has seen of these type of passengers. At least it looks like Trump is going to sign something soon to stop or change this practice. I can’t imagine why GW or Obama didn’t change this practice but maybe it’s due to the explosion of illegal crossings in the last 3 years or so.

    • There are huge holes in our immigration policies that politicians are basically unwilling to address. People just show up at the border and claim asylum and then are allowed to enter, with very little intention of ever showing up for their hearing. if we’re going to have borders, I understand the need to detain folks. There are also issues with chain migration, anchor babies and work visa abuses that need to be fixed. Should we even have borders if we don’t want to enforce them?

  2. “small yardstick on this issue is that 52% of crimes under Obama had been related to illegal immigration”

    This is a ridiculous lie. I’m sure your source is Breitbart or similar.

    Also, the Trump administration started the practice of separating refugee families who arrive together, about 6 weeks ago. It’s both illegal and cruel, and they’ve admitted that the point is the cruelty to try to get refugees to stop coming. (That’s the illegal part.)

  3. “People just show up at the border and claim asylum and then are allowed to enter, with very little intention of ever showing up for their hearing.”

    Somewhere on the order of 80-90 percent do appear. All of them by definition have passed “credible fear” interviews with CBP to be allowed to have a hearing.

    “chain migration, anchor babies”

    These are xenophobic, anti-immigration talking points and terms. Family based immigration has been at the core of US immigration law and policy since we have had immigration laws. It’s made America stronger, and a place that people around the world want to come.

    As far as refugees, after the Vietnam War, we allowed 800,000 refugees from SE Asia. Now it’s drug cartel violence in Central America, caused by Americans’ demand for drugs and the “war” on drugs. We should welcome them and apologize.

  4. Think about it this way: if they could fly here on points, they would. Instead, hundreds of thousands of Honduran, Salvadoran, and Guatamalan families risk kidnapping and murder to cross Mexico _by land_ to come here. They are living the situation, and that journey is a more appealing option than staying. Precisely because they are law abiding people, and not gang/cartel members or willing to cooperate, is why they are fearful. Nothing the US government can do at the border will deter that.

    • I do not want the kids to be separated but I think for too long, people have misused our immigration laws and the politicians caved in just for the sake of holding or seeking power.

      Asylum seekers should seek asylum in the “first safe country” if they are fleeing or suffered persecution or fear that they will suffer persecution due to: Race, Religion, Nationality,
      Membership in a particular social group and Political opinion.
      If they head to US, they should go to legal port of entry and seek asylum, not sneak in the country illegally.

      • That is a position you can argue, though the majority view is that Mexico is not a safe country for international humanitarian law purposes. (The experience of Mexico as a well-off US-citizen tourist in Cabo is different than the experience as a Ki’che-speaking Guatemalan refugee. ‘Nuff said there.) So the first universally recognized safe country if you are traveling north from Central America is the US.

        As a matter of international humanitarian law, refugees who enter at ports of entry and who do not are the same. The theory is that since you’re fleeing for your life, the receiving country cannot say “well, you didn’t flee in the right place.” Moreover, CBP has been turning refugees away at ports of entry before they can apply, effectively pushing them to cross elsewhere. (Need I mention the rates of violent crime where they are crossing from?)

        One really has to distinguish between people who are trying not to get caught and people who are trying to apply for asylum. The current crisis is with refugees/asylees.

  5. These kids should head to Charlotte(CLT) with their parents. PSA will keep them there. Sorry.
    In all honesty, taking frightened kids from their parents is cruel and insane. It must stop.

  6. Thank you, Summer. This isn’t political; it is a humanitarian crisis and the airline involvement makes it relevant on your site.

  7. I like most of Summer’s posts and I read her often but not a fan of putting stories that will certainly inflame one side or the other. This is a hot topic and there are so many other travel blog posts that do that and I get turned off by it. This travel blog had been free of that which I enjoyed…until now. Bummer Summer…

    • Steve and anyone else sharing similar opinions, I know that political issues can be divisive and reasonable people can have different political opinions, but this issue isn’t even political. Taking children from parents on large-scale levels is a humanitarian crisis. The President just basically said the same and ended the policy. The issue was not covered until airlines became involved and that made it an overtly travel related issue.

      To avoid sites and airlines that may or may not have different political ideologies than us will become isolating pretty quickly. I have good friends, family members, and neighbors that have different political beliefs than me. I visit sites, restaurants, shops, and companies that I am pretty certain have different political beliefs than me. My belief is that we are better when exposed to a variety of viewpoints, especially when they come from a place of caring and good intentions. But, as always, life is short, and if this or any other site does not meet your needs, then I fully understand not making it one of your daily focuses.

      • Agree! But…

        “The President just basically said the same and ended the policy.”

        …we have to be careful and vigilant with this, because what today’s EO says is “we’ll detain families and children together, indefinitely.”

        There is a settlement in place in a case from the 1990’s called Flores, under which DHS cannot detain children for more than 20 days. About two weeks from now, many journalists and immigration lawyers are expecting the federal court that administers the Flores settlement to require children to be released. What will happen with their asylum applicant parents is not known now, but many foresee the administration trying to continue to detain the parents and blaming the Flores judge for any resulting separations. (The Flores judge could order the parents released.)

      • “when they come from a place of caring and good intentions”

        That’s a good line Summer and I’m sure it’s 100% genuine on your part.

    • It has politics all over it because of Trump’s lies about the whole thing from the inception of his policy, and then claiming that it was up to the Dems to fix his mess.

      • This comment above me is exactly why I don’t care for these kinds of stories on travel blogs. I’ll call it a day now…..

      • I didn’t make a comment about who I voted for…I simply love Summers blog for travel. If it becomes another political blog, the enjoyment i derive from her site is gone.

    • keep burying your head in the sand, Karen. people like you who want to “avoid” issues deemed “political” are the problem. you’re enabling morally reprehensible behavior as a result of this desire to “look elsewhere”.

      • Gabriel,
        ..I simply love Summers blog for travel. If it becomes another political blog, the enjoyment i derive from her site is gone.

        • The charm of this blog is that Summer puts her heart and passion into it and children and families are definitely the place where her heart and passion lie, so it makes perfect sense that she would write about this. There is no reason to read politics into this post. She never mentioned a single politician, she wrote only about the families and the airlines who are trying to protect them.
          It is informative of your position that you chose to read this as being about politics.

  8. I enjoy your posts on travel and points.

    I enjoy your posts on travel and kids.

    Please don’t divert into posts on politics. I can get that in so many places; I’ve always seen you as a bit of a respite.

    To say “this situation isn’t even political” – Oh, it’s really, really political.

    Love you, as always.

      • It’s not a humanitarian “crisis.” It has been going on and on for many years now, with many different presidents. If it IS actually the parent that is taking their kid to cross the border illegally, then it’s what we call a self-inflicted hardship. The parent did that to their own child. Maybe they shouldn’t enter the country illegally, then. Huh?

        Go try to enter some other country illegally, with your own kid. See what happens.

        • Yes, go ahead and try to enter another country seeking asylum. Maybe Canada. What, they don’t arrest you and take your children away from you and pen them up? Shocking!

        • Knocking on the door and asking for help does not equal “entering the country illegally”. And this “crisis” is self-imposed; it did NOT occur in this way under previous presidents in the last few decades.

          • Chuck gets it where many people don’t.

            Refugee status and the right to apply for asylum isn’t a loophole, it’s a legally protected right in both US law and international law, just like all of the other more familiar rights. It is by definition not illegal to come to the US and assert these rights. And one does not have to cross the border at a port of entry to assert these rights.

  9. Are you concerned that parents send their tween daughters north with plan B pills, or on birth control, because they know that rape is serious possibility when traveling with border smugglers? Are you concerned about kids dying of heat stroke and dehydration crossing the desert? Do you think we should do anything to deter this behavior? Was it an “elephant in the room” for you when Obama was forced to separate children from their arrested parents at the border by the 9th Circuit due to Flores? I’ve seen so much selective outrage and anti-Trump virtue signaling on this issue that I can hardly take it. I was sad when I had to ditch One Mile at a Time because of the same type of problems. I hope that doesn’t happen here.

    • How does separating families — some likely forever — solve the problems plagued by the asylum-seekers? Seriously, I am keen to hear how you think that would work.

      • I don’t understand your question. Asylum-seekers are not being separated from their families. If you apply for asylum at a port of entry, you have not committed a crime and will not be arrested or separated from anyone.

        • No, they are not being separated at ports of entry, they are being turned away, which is illegal under international law. Since they are seeking asylum from something, that leaves them with only the option of seeking asylum outside of a port of entry, for which a hearing should be granted as it would be in most civilized countries. Staying outside the country is not an option or they would not be having to seek asylum. Do you understand the question a little better now, or are you still willfully ignorant?

          • No, I think I understand exactly what is happening. When you say “asylum-seekers”, you must mean people who cross the border illegally, and when caught and charged with either a misdemeanor (first offense) or felony (not first offense), ask for asylum. You cannot be referring to people who follow the prescribed, legal, method for seeking asylum.

    • If you are truly concerned about the safety of people making the journey to the US to assert their right under international law to apply for asylum, then advocate for Congress to change US law to allow asylum applications at our embassies in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

      Current US law requires physical presence in the US or at a port of entry. Some other countries allow applications at their embassies. Even the US does, on a case-by-case basis, for high profile people like Chinese human rights activists.

      Of course, the reason people leave is that they are being threatened, so some people are still going to come regardless.

    • Pete, dude…
      What took you so long to ditch One Mile at a Time? I ditched that one years ago – along with the hateful-left wing “gremlin from the wing,” and that guy from LA, stone-faced picture sitting in an airplane seat (I forget what it’s called). You will find that most of these blogs are written by the far, extreme left. They don’t care if they talk about politics, because losing about 50% of their readers doesn’t really matter to them. It is nothing more than self righteous indignation. They want to feeeeeeel good.

      They don’t understand why we even read. I confess- occasionally I will scan BoardingArea titles, maybe click on a few. But I don’t consider these blogs as “part of my life” anymore. I don’t consider myself to have any “personal” connection with them. They are no longer bookmarked….it’s just how it is.

      I don’t mind them sharing their political views because I don’t mind them losing 50% or their audience.

      PS – Same for Hollyweird actors. And I never travel to Hawaii anymore (don’t like the judges) and San Francisco is the most beautiful city that I will never go back to (urine, feces, bums). They do it to themselves.

      • Yea, I got sucked into OMaaT because the idea of someone continually flying around the world in business/first, and staying at nothing but 5 star hotels seemed fascinating. But after a while it started to seem more like Lucky had an unhealthy travel addiction than anything else. Also, his lifestyle is just so unrealistic. He takes multiple flights per week that cost more than my mortgage. But what really started to get to me is the guest posts from some SJW guy named Travis. He had an absolute meltdown when he stayed at some hotel in the south and there was a card with a Christian prayer in his room. Then Lucky started giving gun control lectures. See ya later.

  10. Why are there suddenly so many “families” illegally crossing the border? Because the word is being spread down South that if you show up with a child in tow, even without any proof whatsoever that they are really related to you in any way, you will be released on a mere promise to appear for a distant hearing. Contrary to the comment above it is more than 80% who never show up, not the opposite.

    And no, it’s not just the few who have credible refugee credentials who are allowed to go free. By law anyone who has been taught to say the right words to say by “immigration activists” has the right to a hearing. And when we are talking about figures like 20,000, there are simply not enough judges to do this quickly. To allow this loophole to continue means to simply no longer have a border.

    I wonder how many people reading this blog, if when they got home tonight, and found some “undocumented residents” had broken into their home, would just say “these poor people, they are just unfortunates seeking a better life and a better place to live; really, no one is illegal; a decent home is a human right; welcome to my home, can I make you dinner?”

    You know everyone one of you would being calling 911 as fast as you could punch in the numbers. How is breaking into our country different from breaking into your home? Because it’s personal, and you have to deal with the consequences. Well, the Steinle family, who were permanently “separated” from their daughter Kate by an illegal alien who had been deported 5 times, are wonderful people who broke no law. Where is the compassion for them?

  11. Another “humanitarian crisis” that progressives don’t want to talk about. Most of the children crossing the border are not with their parents, they are on their own. They have come because they have been told that children cannot be turned away by the Border Patrol. Temporary homes are found for them, but they have no relatives here, and no friends. The gangs seek them out, and force them to join, violently if necessary. According to FactCheck org there are around 10,000 members of MS-13 in the US.

    From Yahoo today:

    “MS-13 gang members, including 10 illegal immigrants, charged in deaths of Virginia teens

    Eleven MS-13 gang members – all of whom are illegal immigrants except one – are facing life in prison after being charged in the kidnappings and deaths of two teens whose bodies were dug up in a Virginia park last year. The ages of the male gang members charged Friday ranged from 20 to 27. All of them are from El Salvador and only one – who is believed to have fled the country – is not in police custody, according to NBC Washington. Police uncovered the bodies of 17-year-old Edvin Escobar Mendez and 14-year-old Sergio Arita Triminio at Holmes Run Park in March 2017 after receiving a tip. The two teens disappeared just weeks apart the prior year.”

    BTW, when MS-13 kills someone, they don’t shoot them. They hack them to pieces with machetes. Every unaccompanied minor allowed into the country is a likely new recruit for these vicious gangs.

    In other news today, the crying 3 year old Honduran girl about to be featured on the cover of Time magazine, and used by an “immigrants rights” (sic) group to raise $17 million dollars, was not separated from her parents. Her parents are with her. She is just a little girl crying, something little girls do with some regularity. Especially when they are exhausted from having been hauled on a grueling multi day hike thru the desert by her parents. But no one will care about that, because it can’t be used to raise money and get votes. 🙁

  12. Thank you for writing this, Summer. The family separations were a horrendous practice, an, as many have pointed out, where being inflicted on those who crossed legally as well. It’s not a party issue; it’s a human issue. Especially given the difficulties in reuniting families (bc the federal agencies didn’t bother to keep good records), this can basically be a life sentence of losing your child for what is legally a civic misdemeanor. Shame on any who support it.

    It’s a little terrifying to see how the talking points from Trump, Sessions, and Nielson find their way into people’s commentary. There are some excellent examples of that in the comments above…

    • Remember, please, to call your representatives in Congress and demand that they reunite the families that were separated. A great idea is floating on Twitter of a single staging area where all the parents and all the children can be reconvened in one place so that they can find each other again. The thought of not knowing where my children are is almost paralyzing for me. I can’t imagine what these people are going through.

    • Thanks for the wag of the finger. Your virtue has been noted. Adults detained for committing misdemeanors (first crossing), or felonies (not first crossing) may not legally be housed with children per the Flores ruling from the far-left 9th Circuit Court. Is your position that adults who cross the border with children should not be arrested?

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