Prior to the policy being reversed Wednesday, major U.S. airlines told the White House that they didn’t want to participate in any transportation of migrant children who were separated from their parents at border crossings.
In a statement Wednesday, American Airlines said it doesn’t know whether any migrant children have been on its flights, but it doesn’t want to profit from the current immigration policy of separating families.
“The family separation process that has been widely publicized is not at all aligned with the values of American Airlines,” the airline said in a statement. “We bring families together, not apart.”
On Wednesday, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order that will keep families together at the border, even as it maintains the government’s “zero-tolerance” prosecution policy for border crossings it views as illegal.
Criticism of the policy was sharp, as images of crying children dominated the news cycle for days. Airlines distanced themselves from any involvement in the program as the story went on.
American and other airlines have contracts to provide travel services to the U.S. government. American says, however, that the government doesn’t provide information about the passengers or their reason for travel.
United Airlines echoed that sentiment, saying in a statement that the airline is “concerned about reports that commercial airlines have been used to transport immigrant children separated from their parents by a newly implemented immigration enforcement policy.”
The airline added that it has informed government officials “that they should not transport immigrant children on United aircraft.”
“We want no part of it,” United’s statement said
In recent days, several flight attendants have gone on social media to report seeing groups of children on their flights whom they believed to be children separated from their migrant families.