President Donald Trump's "zero tolerance" family separations policy was dealt a significant blow by two airlines this afternoon.
American Airlines has requested that the United States federal government "immediately refrain from using American for the purpose of transporting children who have been separated from their families due to the current immigration policy."
"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," the airline said in a statement.
The complete statement reads as follows:
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 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.
JUST IN: American Airlines has requested that the US federal government "immediately refrain from using American fo… https://t.co/qiQmN9Xbd3— MSNBC (@MSNBC) 1529513798.0
The airline released the statement after a recent and widely circulated Facebook post claimed 16 children were "dressed as criminals" when they traveled on a recent flight from Arizona to Florida.
"Through all the adversities we faced last evening with computer outages, cancellations and delays, nothing prepared me or my crew for 16 passengers. Sixteen. All dressed in black and gray cheap Walmart sweat suits, quietly boarding the 12:30am flight," the post reads.
It continues: "Children! Thirty-two scared eyes looking straight forward dazed. We try to speak, yet none speak English."
News outlets have been unable to confirm the circumstances described in the post, which, as of this report, has been shared on Facebook nearly 6,000 times.
[facebook https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fvictoria.cook.336%2Fposts%2F2531800893512419&width=500 expand=1]
A look through the comments indicates that many people have indeed fallen for the content described in the Facebook post.
In an earlier statement, American said it was "asked about transporting undocumented children" and "aware of the narrative that is circulating online."
"We have no way to substantiate the report at this time but would be disappointed to learn that our airline was being used to separate families," it added.
American Airlines isn't the only airline to speak out against the family separations policy.
In a statement of his own, United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz condemned the Trump administration's action, saying "we want no part of it."
"At United Airlines, we have been concerned about reports that commercial airlines have been used to transport immigrant children separated from their parents by a newly implemented immigration enforcement policy. Based on some research we have internally and public reports we have not seen evidence these children have been flown on United aircraft," the Munoz's statement reads.
Based on our serious concerns about this policy and how it's in deep conflict with our company's values, we have contacted federal officials to inform them that they should not transport immigrant children on United aircraft who have been separated from their parents. Out company's shared purpose is to connect people and unite the world. This policy and its impact on thousands of children is in deep conflict with that mission and we want no part of it.
NEW: United Airlines CEO asks federal officials not to "transport immigrant children on United aircraft who have be… https://t.co/MytO9gQQho— ABC News (@ABC News) 1529514383.0
These condemnations come as President Trump, after insisting he would do nothing, appeared to cave to national criticism and announced he would sign an executive order to address the "zero tolerance" policy.
"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," Trump said during a brief announcement at the White House.