Each year the United States deports thousands of individuals. Deportees can sometime choose to self-deport depending on the circumstances. In 2017, CNN reported that over 110,000 people were deported on “ICE Air”. Ice Air consists of charter planes the United States government flies around the country picking up deportees and then fly to their home country. Other deportees leave by foot, bus, or car. Some leave by commercial plane.
On a recent flight to Mexico, I notice several CBP agents standing around the gate. They were talking amongst each other and laughing. I didn’t think too much about it. After all, this was an international flight. When I went to board, I had boarding pass problems and had to return to the gate agent to address them. I was now the last to board. In front of me were two CBP agents and a family of four, two adolescent girls and what appeared to be their parents.
The family each had a large suitcase, too large for carryons. The CBP officer gave them instructions in Spanish to stay onboard upon landing. Telling the family that an officer would greet them after everyone disembarked the aircraft. The agent then followed them onto the plane and handed the purser a manila envelope containing their passports. The teary-eye family went to the back of the plane and took their seats.
I just watched a family be deported. Knowing nothing about them or their story, it was very sad to witness. The US is already one of the hardest countries to enter legally and travel restrictions are only growing. It’s easy to say, “Get in line,” when it doesn’t effect you or when you have a passport that allows visa free travel to the majority of the world.
Is This Humane?
As a nurse, I must point out, we are in the middle of a pandemic and we are still deporting immigrants. If Trump’s administration actions weren’t terrible enough for keeping kids and families in cages at the Southern Border, we continue to drop to new lows as we send the most vulnerable into dire situations. As of Sunday June 14th, the state of Jalisco, where this family was being sent was still under lockdown orders. Over 17,141 deaths have occurred in Mexico due to covid-19, with over 147,000 people infected. Yet, these numbers are actually much lower than reality. Even the government admits there is not enough testing and the actual numbers are higher.
I understand that every administration deports undocumented migrants and doesn’t seem every admissable. I also admit that I know nothing about this family, their case, and have a limited understanding on immigration law. Yet, I am disgusted that we continue to deport and remove people during a pandemic. We are taking the most vulnerable and exposing them to environmental factors that just might kill them. I find it very controversial that borders are “Closed”, except for those who can afford to fly. And despite the closed border, those who the US orders to leave, still must leave immediately.
I have pondered over this for several days and I don’t know if I should also be disturbed by Alaska Airlines for taking part in this effort. If this family is exposed to covid-19 in Mexico and dies, Alaska Airlines is guilty by association.
Alaska did not initially respond to the article, but have since has reached out for clarification. In a statement from Bobbie Egan, Director of External Communications & PR for Alaska Airlines, confirmed they do not contract with the US Government or ICE to remove people from the US, but they do have a contract with the GSA.
“This is extremely unsettling to read about these guests’ experience. Alaska Airlines has never chartered flights domestically or internationally for any U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) operation. Like other airlines, we do have a contract with the U.S. General Services Administration, which allows the federal government to purchase travel on our regularly scheduled flights. We have asked that this contract not be used for deportee operations or in connection with separating immigrant families.”