American Airlines has asked the federal government not to use its planes to transport migrant children who have been separated from their families, widening a backlash to a new Trump administration policy.
Under the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy towards illegal border crossings, adults are separated from their children so they can face prosecution. Thousands of young migrants have been taken from their families, with hundreds subsequently housed in a former Walmart and a newly constructed tent city in Texas.
Deploring the family separations as “not at all aligned with the values of American Airlines”, the carrier said in a statement that it had asked the federal government to “immediately refrain” from bringing children separated from their parents due to the new policy on board their aircraft.
“We have no desire to be associated with separating families, or worse, to profit from it”, the statement said.
American said it contracts with the federal government and has in the past carried refugees but, because the government does not disclose information about its flights, the company does not know if the government has used American aircraft to transport children affected by the new policy.
“We would be extremely disappointed to learn that is the case”, the statement said.
In condemning the Trump administration’s harsh immigration turn, the airline joined a global chorus that has included Republicans in Congress.
Under pressure from his own party to act, Donald Trump said he would sign an executive order to prevent families from being broken up.
“We’re going to keep families together but we still have to maintain toughness or our country will be overrun by people, by crime, by all of the things that we don’t stand for and that we don’t want,” Mr Trump said.