American Airlines and United Airlines shares rose Wednesday as the domestic carriers criticized the Trump administration’s immigration policy, asking federal officials not to use its planes to transport children who have been separated from their families as part of its crackdown on illegal immigration.
“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 company said in a statement. “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.”
American Airlines and United Airlines stocks were each up nearly 2% as of early Wednesday afternoon, though stock movement has been negligible since the airlines' statements went public.
The Trump administration has faced widespread criticism from Democrats and immigration activists this week after The Associated Press reported that roughly 2,000 children were separated from their families from April 19 to May 31. The Department of Homeland Security and immigration officials are enforcing a zero tolerance policy on families who attempt to cross the border illegally.
United CEO Oscar Munoz said in a statement that federal officials “should not transport immigrant children on United aircraft who have been separated from their parents,” Politico reported.
Frontier Airlines, which is privately held, also spoke out against the policy.
The Department of Homeland Security called the airlines’ response to the immigration crackdown “unfortunate.”
“Despite being provided facts on this issue, these airlines clearly do not understand our immigration laws and the long-standing devastating loopholes that have caused the crisis at our southern border,” DHS Press Secretary Tyler Houlton said in a statement to Fox News. “Buckling to a false media narrative only exacerbates the problems at our border and puts more children at risk from traffickers. We wish the airlines would instead choose to be part of the solution.”