Department of Homeland Security Blasts American, United for Not Wanting to Transport Kids Separated from Families

Earlier today I wrote about flight attendants expressing concern over transporting kids who were being separated from their families as they’re split up under immigration laws.

No matter how you feel about politics or immigration policy, it’s difficult not to feel for the children involved. And if you’re crew working a flight that’s transporting kids away from their parents, it can be a gut wrenching thing to be a part of just on a human level.

An American Airlines flight attendant emailed me today,

[W]e transported 6 children on our flight. They weren’t allowed to speak to us. We were not allowed to GIVE them food that we sell on our flights. Their “handlers” answered for them when we asked them what they would like to drink. Their “handlers” ate our food and watched movies with ear buds that we show on our flights. The girls would NOT make eye contact with us. One of the children sat and cried most of the flight. They were in sweatsuits and kept in single file line. Mind you…. it’s 100 degrees outside. We were told they were being taken to be relocated in their new homes. In reality….. they were being taken to detention centers.

Another girl had 16 and a similar situation

FAs are starting to revolt. People are emailing Jill and some are starting to refuse to work the flights.

So both American Airlines and United have expressed solidarity with their crew, which isn’t surprising.

  • American says they asked 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.”

  • United says while they “have not seen evidence these children have been flown on United aircraft” they “have contacted federal officials to inform them that they should not transport immigrant children on United aircraft who have been separated from their parents.”

It’s not clear what if anything this request would change. The federal government will or won’t choose to book tickets at their contracted fares for the passengers of their choice.

Nonetheless the Department of Homeland Security has come out swinging against both airlines.

The Department of Homeland Security spokesperson does not provide further details, unfortunately, on their plan “to swiftly reunite unaccompanied illegal immigrant children with their families.”

Delta has also come out with a statement that says “Delta’s mission is to connect people and we are against anything that runs contrary to that mission.” They did not call out the administration’s immigration policies, or flying children separated from parents on their aircraft. They did, however, “applaud the Administration” for its “Executive Order resolving the issue of separating children from their families at the U.S. border.” Delta especially has flattered the President in service of its lobbying ends. Here are details on that executive order.

By the way, for folks who would rather debate immigration I’ll offer this video of Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush debating what to do about children and immigration during the 1980 Republic Presidential primaries. I think it’s instructive.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. The DHS spokesman refers to the “brave men and women” of his agency. They may merely be doing the job they’ve been ordered to, , but you don’t have to be terribly brave to put a child in a cage.

  2. Wow, what an illuminating blast from the past to see two Republican presidents of our nation of immigrants both displaying humanity on the immigration issue. And in their appealing to the better angels in our nature, what a contrast with the liar who currently occupies the Oval Office and who only seeks to exploit our worst instincts.

  3. @Jerry – You care to patrol the Southern border as cartels and smugglers come across with their precious cargos? If not, it’s easy to criticize bravery from a safe armchair…

  4. Does this mean that Homeland Security will stop “securing” AA flights, making the lives of millions of Americans better? Please God, let this be the case!

  5. Wow such a contrast. 1980: “Honorable, valuable, good people who have broken the law: 2018: “Criminals who infest our country.” The current leadership has destroyed this country’s soul.

  6. Thank you flight attendants. There is one person who could change this with one phone call. How sick does a person have to be to not make that phone call? At least we have 1 answer to #wherearethegirls?

  7. Cruella will never be able to show her face in public again without being scorned. I’ll bet she was sure dining at the Mexican restaurant would prove something, just like when the Orange Baboon dined at his disk with his little taco salad on Cinco De Mayo during the campaign. It’ always hilarious to watch Republicans try to pretend they’re normal people and not entitled viceroys demanding subservience. It drives them crazy to see a real man of the people like Barrack brush their snottiness off of his collar while he hooks the basketball backwards over his head to sink it while walking away mid-court. A perfect metaphor for our politics, the lithe athletic smiling winner Obama and the bloated hideously grotesque orange clown-masked freakshow who replaced him, who can’t go a day without bleeding his psychosis out to a world which has never been appalled by a more putrid spectacle.

    We are the world’s most liked man Obama, the fat bloated rednecks are the most loathed man on earth since Hitler, Trump. You tell me who wins the long game.

  8. Gary:

    I am an inch away from unsubscribing. Not that you care, of course, but the political stuff here, which is available at about 163746536744848578568645 other sites online, is really getting intolerable.

    And you have some real genius commenters, I must say.

  9. Nice of you not to use the word “illegal” once in your entire article. Why have you not given any awareness to equally suspect social media reports about some of these children not even belonging to the illegal immigrants claiming to be parents?

    As you usual everyone (media, politicians and so called social media “reporters/bloggers”) love to exploit the children for their own self interests.

    I suppose you support Peter Fonda’s outbursts on the subject. How come you haven’t jumped on that one?

  10. Perhaps those flight attendants refusing to work can use their spare time to telephone the Mexican government officials and determine Mexico’s plan for stopping these illegals from crossing the border and committing the crime in the first place. Or, find out Mexico’s plan for upgrading itself from a third-world country so it’s citizens don’t flee to the USA; send money back to the “homeland”; and strain our services.

    Commit the crime; you and your children do the time.

  11. The headlines of these posts give a pretty good indication (usually) of the content of the post and the likely content of the comments. Reading them is your choice. Those not wanting to read or hear anything that might include facts or analysis that conflicts with the propaganda from the White House should stick to watching the opinion shows on State TV (Fox).

  12. @WilliamC: “Commit the crime; you and your children do the time.”

    That apparently serious comment says more than any of us criticizing family separation could ever say about how far we’ve fallen as a nation.

  13. There are laws pertaining to immigration. These illegals were trying to enter illegally with children that might be theirs or might not. Yes, it is criminal to use these kids as pawns, shame on the parents.
    How many of those shouting and demonstrating realize;
    1, Historically, Central American immigrants are a great cost to the USA.
    2, Nice shouting, how many are you ready to sponsor, possibly shelter in your home.

  14. Who are the brave men and women? I’d say they are those willing to risk their lives to give their children a better future in a new land. That’s bravery.

  15. Befehl ist Befehl, those flight attendants are insubordinate! Why can’t they be more like the brave men and women in the Department of Homeland Security? Shame on them for not following orders! And frankly, I did not see that coming.

  16. The parents are being arrested. At that point you have 3 options. Put the children in jail with the parents like Victorian England, Put the children in foster care/relatives like what happens to every child of a US citizen who gets arrested or release the parents “for the childrens sake”. Obama policy was the last one. Trump has signed an order for illegal immigrants to be treated like US citizen criminals are everyday – parents in prison, children in foster care or with relatives. CNN and MSNBC is spinning this as separating children. The only people to blame here are the parents who put the children in this situation. They have failed their duty as parents. Incidentally if they agree to fly back without a court hearing they can go back immediately with their children.
    I am not anti immigrant. i am an immigrant – a legal one. A big difference which the Democrats always try to obscure.
    But if you are breaking laws to make more money. (These are economic migrants not refugees) than if you get caught you pay the consequences.

    The media is after Trump. He may sign an executive order to keep parents and children together. But be carefull what you wish for. He is crazy enough to just go with the Victorian England solution.

    I am a regular poster but will go anonymous because here in Silicon Valley supporting Trump (even as brown skinned immigrant) is pretty much a firing offense.

  17. Commit the crime of attempted “infestation” of this country and you bring the consequences, whatever they might be, on yourself and your children, some say. Fifty years ago, that kind of thinking supported the actions of the Bull Connors who turned loose German Shepherds and fire hoses on people, including children, who were peacefully protesting laws preventing certain U.S. citizens from siting at public lunch counters, making certain public schools off limits, forbidding buying homes in certain neighborhoods, making it impossible for some to vote in elections, etc.. Laws that were clearly designed to prevent “infestations” of undesirables and to maintain the “correct” order in society.

    Never mind that those same citizens had fought and died in every war to preserve the rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and long enjoyed by others but were systematically denied by law to certain people because of the color of their skin.

    Fifty years ago is not that long ago. Even though laws and some attitudes have changed, people haven’t changed much, and Mr. #MAGA knows it.

  18. Probably shouldn’t be putting minors on United anyway – you know – bash, bash, drag, drag – or they may end up in the overhead locker – or sent to the wrong country.

  19. @Greg: Jethro, your extra chromosome must be extraordinarily heavy today. Are you chairman of the Whiny Little Bitch Club yet?

  20. John, you’re missing the point. These Trumpanzees ARE the Bull Connors of our time, desperate to get the women, gays, coloreds, Jeeewwws, and anyone who’s not pasty fat and white back in their place. Just the way they try to lord over us here tells me they still think they have sway in this society beyond this orange Russian fart that hijacked our last election – which is about to be corrected by the kind of wave that comes up on the North Shore that smashes the highway into gravel. No one ever challenged them before, and they thought they could just bully their way through. Why, the election of orange baboon and sudden marches in the streets by Nazi’s proved they were still (night) riding high!

    Nuh uh. You Redneck Baboons are about to be kicked down the street and into the gutter where you belong by Voter Batman finishing off the most hideous Joker ever to appear.

  21. And another clickbait/shitpost from Gary. At least you didn’t make any Nazi comparisons this time. When will BA stop hosting this garbage. PS: Hillary still lost.

  22. @Greg: Jethro, when doctors keep saying you are “special” it does not mean that your delusions are actually ESP.

  23. You Trump supporters truly are despicable, low IQ, no empathy, no integrity scumbags.

    You can keep the America you envisage (look it dumbFs) it’s not for me or any anyone with a shred of decency. You have no soul.

  24. Whatever your view on immigration, it is clear that many, if not the majority of the children are not law-breakers. The law requires knowledge of the illegality (what the law calls “mens rea”). A child below a certain age is presumed incapable of forming intent or having knowledge. Punishing them by keeping them in cages, without proper food, clothing, opportunity for education or for exercise, is an Eighth Amendment violation, in my opinion. And moving them around the country in custody, without an opportunity for representation by counsel, an expedited hearing or, possibly, the right to habeas corpus proceedings, violates the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.

    But equally troubling is the inability of both sides in this debate to listen to the valid points on the other side, and to respond respectfully. Both sides have valid arguments. Neither deserves the vapid and hyperbolic name-calling, nor the sycophantic repetition of empty political party phrases. And I won’t characterize any of the responses above — you know who you are.

    It is the lack of respectful listening and an inability to compromise that is tearing this country apart. Stop it, folks, stop it now!

  25. @Andy: If you have mental issues which prevent you from accepting reality, you can always check out. It would be one less welfare check we have to pay for.

  26. Kudos to the airlines that took a stand on this issue. Shame on the ones who do not have leadership courage. They won’t get my business for a while.

    I have no issue with the brave agents on the border. However, I can only hope that “safe at his desk in DC” Tyler from will find his Gestapo comrades in h–l after his long and natural life. I am sure the Gestapo war criminals were also “just following the law” in their loading the trains to Dachau. Maybe DHS Tyler could be “brave” and show some moral courage?

  27. @Retired Lawyer: You are confused. The children are not being prosecuted for the very real crime of improper entry into the US. It’s the parents that are being prosecuted. It would be more than asinine to suggest that someone can avoid arrest for a crime simply because they have children or that they have the right to have their children incarcerated with them.

    Does it hurt when you think? Nobody has even seriously suggested these children are going without exercise or clothing, much less not being fed.

    You may want to resit second year law school. The parents, subject to criminal proceedings, may have the right to counsel, but centuries Centuries of Supreme Court precedent establish that illegal immigrants who have not developed connections with the country do not have the full scope of affirmative liberty rights that are reserved for citizens. In removal proceedings, they ordinarily have no right to counsel. The children are to be removed, not prosecuted.

    Still, it would be better to turn them over to social services and have them placed in foster care. Oh, wait … the WLB Club would go ape over that.

    The issue isn’t an inability to compromise. It is a presumably genetic inability to understand facts.

  28. @john actually some of us just don’t want to hear about this from a travel blog has nothing to do with agreeing or disagreeing. There are legitimate media sources to get this information. People come here for info about travel and not political discourse.

  29. @Bill, speak for yourself, and please only for yourself.

    I want to hear all that Gary has to say, or that he feels should be said, be it about travel, hotels, airlines, governments, regulation by authority, and all the politics of travel and movement of people around the world.

    How any of us can separate (did I spell that correctly Mr. President?) world travel from immigration issues is beyond me. If you want a blog about travel…you’d better expect it all.

    To inject my view….the way I expect to be treated as a citizen of the USA when I travel around the world is the way I would hope our country treats others – with humanity .

  30. @Bill…I wasn’t clear was I? I want to hear what Gary has to say, and what John has to say, and even what you have to say.

  31. Ah, JC the troll is back to support kids being ripped from their moms. And some time back she was all for women’s rights! Well done Jc! Let the hate flow through you. (the stupid already does)

  32. Insightful video Gary and appreciate your take on this. I don’t usually agree with your politics, but appreciate that you bring up topics people should consider. When society looks the other way, society is complicit. If you want to avoid political topics in life, vote for normalcy, not chaos.

  33. @Jethro: People see right through your lies. Maybe it’s because they have an IQ and you have an extra chromosome.

  34. @Anon: Kudos for actually understanding the issue and not trying to lie / pull stories out of your ass to make yourself feel less inadequate in life. Seriously, it’s very refreshing knowing there are normal people with above average intelligence — like you — in society still.

  35. If anyone else was accompanying a child (not their own) and wouldn’t let them eat, talk etc. the FAs would call it human trafficking.

  36. Greg — Long time reader, first ever comment. Great blog, but please stick to travel. The hornet’s nest has been stirred. Let’s all do our part to encourage civil discourse and not purposely stoke the fire of partisan animosity. Hoping for better in the future.

  37. Ben, this is exactly what liberals tried to do when talk radio took over all of the nation’s major radio stations to pump pure hatred out 24/7 for 30 years. They tried to be tolerant and understanding and look what it got us. These are neo-confederate baboons who we were too polite to point out were some of the most grotesque 300-500 pound racist slobs the world has ever seen. Yet collaborating with an enemy nation (19 indictments) they took over the country and now are desperately trying to bully through policies on supported by the 35% vile grotesquely fat bigots like JC who no woman has ever looked at so they’re having their revenge on modernity.

  38. @Greg, at no point during your rambling, incoherent hate-filled diatribe do you even come close to making a valid point or forming a rational thought.


    Guess what? You're not. You're the same thing you claim to preach against.

    By the way, Gary. I'm done reading your crappy blog. I come here to read about frequent flyer miles and strategies, not insane political crap. I can see that on Fox News or MSNBC. Good luck with one less set of eyeballs around to look at the absolute garbage you've started to publish here anymore.

  39. Too much Flying, U should let off your steam at a meeting with your White Supremacist friends. U and other racist shall be defeated. Thank u Greg for defending those who r the victims of racists like Flying Too Much

  40. Too much Flying, U should let off your steam at a meeting with your Racist friends U and other racist shall be defeated. Thank u Greg for defending those who r the victims of racists like Flying Too Much

  41. Random thoughts after wasting my time reading the comments above…Yes, wasted — and that’s regardless of my own personal views on politics, on immigration (legal or illegal), Trump/Obama, and “collusion.”

    Gary Leff’s “View from the Wing” is a blog which focuses on a) earning and burning Miles & Points; b) which credit card is best for what, and what’s the current sign-up bonus; c) airline news, policies, discounts, and more. This specific post falls under “c” (airline news). The topic seems a perfectly appropriate for this blog to me. AA (and UA) refusing to handle the transfer of children separated from their parents. It *is* news.

    The problem here is the name-calling, the insults, and the assumptions based upon “facts not in evidence.” Most of the above posts are either attacking or defending Trump and his supporters, followed by name-calling. WHAT’S THE POINT??? I fail to see the need.

    For those who no longer wish to read/follow View from the Wing, go! No one is forcing you to read Gary’s blog; no one is forcing you to stay. There are plenty of other blogs you can choose to follow (or not); that’s up to you. But I would simply say that Gary’s post was civil, factual; the comments were not.

    [Posted using my real name by someone who has nothing to hide.]

  42. Where was all the fake outrage when this policy was continued under obama for eight years? Where is the outrage when your fellow lefties call for the kidnapping and rape of children (peter fonda)?

    Maybe this blog should be change to View From the Left Wing

  43. “The idea that this is simply a continuation of an Obama-era practice is “preposterous,” said Denise Gilman, director of the Immigration Clinic at the University of Texas Law School. “There were occasionally instances where you would find a separated family — maybe like one every six months to a year — and that was usually because there had been some actual individualized concern that there was a trafficking situation or that the parent wasn’t actually the parent.””

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