The announcements by American Airlines, United Airlines and Frontier followed reports that President Donald Trump would sign an executive order ending family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border, and also prompted a sharp rebuke from Tyler Houlton, a Department of Homeland Security spokesman, who accused the companies of "buckling to a false media narrative" on Twitter.
All three companies denied that their planes have been used to transport migrant children who had recently been separated from their parents.
American Airlines said in a statement on its website that, "We have no desire to be associated with separating families, or worse, to profit from it," adding that it had carried refugees for nonprofits and for the government, most often for the purpose of reuniting them with family members.
United Airlines followed suit, saying in a tweet from CEO Oscar Munoz that it had "serious concerns about this policy" and that the company's purpose is "to connect people and unite the world."
Frontier Airlines released a similar statement Wednesday afternoon.
More than 2,300 children have been separated from their parents as a direct result of the decision to criminally charge people caught crossing the border illegally.
Several prominent people have criticized the practice, including conservatives such as former first lady Laura Bush, and Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb.
On Wednesday afternoon, Trump abruptly signed an executive order that administration officials said would keep families together in federal custody while awaiting prosecution for illegal border crossings.
"We have to be very strong on the border but at the same time we want to be very compassionate," Trump said at the White House.
But animus toward the practice has been growing in the airline industry, particularly with workers who say they don't want to help implement a government policy they find morally wrong.
He did not reveal which airline he worked for in the editorial or in a Facebook post, but he said the incidents had remained with him.
"Since working the two flights, the images of those helpless children have burned into my psyche," he wrote. "The little children whose faces were full of fear, confusion, sadness and exhaustion left me somewhat traumatized as it occurred to me a few weeks later that I might as well have been a collaborator in their transport.
" . . . I will no longer be complicit and will walk away from any future flight assignments that try to make me a pawn for this disgusting and deplorable cause."
The Arizona Republic reported that the flight was most likely operated by American Airlines, although a company spokeswoman told the publication that the airline doesn't disclose passenger manifests.
The leaders of several other powerful corporations have urged the federal government to stop the practice.
As The Washington Post reported, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg has encouraged people to donate to the Texas Civil Rights project, which provides legal advice and translation services to migrants affected by the practice and is taking broader legal action.
And Apple CEO Tim Cook, speaking in Dublin on Tuesday, said "it's heartbreaking to see the images and hear the sounds of the kids. Kids are the most vulnerable people in any society. I think that what's happening is inhumane, it needs to stop."
The private bus line Greyhound has also been caught up in the heightened immigration crackdown, with the ACLU and members of Congress calling on the company to stop letting Border Patrol agents conduct raids on board. A spokesperson, Lanesha Gipson, said the company doesn't "support or coordinate these searches, nor are we happy about them," adding that Greyhound is simply complying with the law.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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