A member of a migrant family from Mexico
A member of a migrant family from Mexico, fleeing from violence, holds her doll while waiting to enter the United States to meet officers of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to apply for asylum at Paso del Norte international border crossing bridge in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico June 20, 2018. Reuters/Jose Luis Gonzalez

American Airlines, United Airlines, Frontier Airlines and Southwest Airlines have taken a stand against the US federal immigration policy that separates migrant children from their parents. It might be a moot issue, though, as US President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday to end the separation of families.

On Wednesday, the four major carriers said they would not take part, even inadvertently, in helping transport migrant children and separate them from their families under Trump’s immigration policy. More than 2,300 children have reportedly been taken from their parents at the US-Mexico border since the Trump administration announced a “zero tolerance policy.”

“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 said in a statement.

“We have therefore requested 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. 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.”

United Airlines echoed the sentiment. “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 done internally and public records, we have not seen evidence these children have been flown on United aircraft,’ CEO Oscar Munoz said.

“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. Our 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.”

Frontier Airlines:

“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.”

Southwest Airlines:

“Southwest Airlines has always put people first. The purpose of our airline is to connect people to what is important in their lives, and there is nothing more important to us than family. While we do not have evidence that tickets purchased for Southwest flights have been utilised to transport detained children, we do not wish to have involvement in the process of separating children from their parents. Therefore, we appeal to anyone making those types of travel decisions not to utilities Southwest Airlines. We are a company founded on love, and we want to connect people to what’s important in their lives, not disconnect them.”

Delta Airlines also condemned the policy but did not say whether they would ban the transportation of children separated from their families. “Recent reports of families being separated are disheartening and do not align with Delta’s core values.”

It is unclear how the airlines would prevent the government from flying separated children on their aircraft, though.

The move comes after an unnamed flight attendant detailed her experience with transporting 16 scared children who had been taken from their families on an Arizona to Miami flight.

Trump ends policy of separating families

But their action may not be needed at all anymore. Trump, in a reversal of attitude, signed an executive order ending his immigration policy on Wednesday. The fate of the children already separated from their family is still unknown.