President Trump officially reversed his argument that the office of the president has no authority to stop separations of undocumented immigrant families, signing an executive order on Wednesday afternoon to keep families together at the border due to national outrage and pressure from both political parties.
Many U.S. airlines, including American, have contracts with the U.S. government allowing federal employees to use its planes for certain travel.
In the hours before the signing, major airlines American Airlines Group Inc (NASDAQ: AAL), United Continental Holdings Inc (NYSE: UAL), and Frontier Airlines took a stand against the separation of immigrant children from their parents, issuing statements of disapproval.
American Airlines said that the zero tolerance policy at the border goes against the company’s policy and has "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."
Frontier Airlines made a statement expressing their opposition to separating families on Twitter, saying, “Frontier prides itself on being a family airline and we will not knowingly allow our flights to be used to transport migrant children away from their families. At this time, we are not aware if Frontier has been used for this purpose.”
United Airlines expressed concerns about the immigration policy, stating that the company has “contacted federal officials to inform them that they should not transport immigrant children on United aircraft who have been separated from their parents.”
Delta Airlines stated "Recent reports of families being separated are disheartening and do not align with Delta's core values.” Ed Bastian, Delta CEO, said, “We are very clear that our mission is bringing the world together and connecting people to each other, and anything that runs counter to that, obviously Delta is going to be opposed.”
Department of Homeland Security said that airlines do not understand immigration laws and the loopholes that have caused the immigration crisis at the border. "It's unfortunate that American Air, United and Frontier 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," a DHS spokesperson said.
Shortly after the airlines expressed their position on the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy, Trump reversed the policy and signed an executive order to end the family separation policy.