United Airlines Virtue Signals its Position on Migrant Families

Corporate America once again picks and chooses when to comply with federal contracts

By Dan Cadman on July 30, 2018

United Airlines has joined with FWD.us, a liberal-leaning group that advocates for "immigration reform" (meaning broad-based amnesty for illegal aliens, plus hugely generous temporary worker programs) to announce it will provide free flights to illegal aliens who were separated from their children.

The announcements were apparently made on Facebook — no surprise, given the close connections between FWD.us and Facebook's founder Mark Zuckerberg.

I don't have any inherent problem with the philosophical notion of United Airlines doing a good deed. I do question, though, why it has only shown such largesse where the question of separation of illegal alien family members is concerned. Surely, if this is about reuniting families, there are also any number of below-poverty-level U.S. citizens who need to be reunited with families for reasons beyond their control. Why not make it a company policy to fly them free of charge? Or is this just "virtue signaling"?

Unfortunately, there are cogent reasons to think it's the latter. For instance, in February of this year, United decided to "cut ties" with the National Rifle Association (NRA) and stop providing discount rates for NRA members. NRA reacted, not unsurprisingly, by urging its members and supporters of the Second Amendment to do the same and boycott the airline.

And more recently, United Airlines declared that it would not assist the U.S. government in flying alien minors as a way of demonstrating its "resistance" to federal immigration policies with which it disagrees.

If United exercises its right to impose such restrictions, so be it. But as I have noted before, when companies decide to pick and choose among those policies they approve— or disapprove — of, and in the process become unreliable partners to the federal government, then the appropriate response is, at least to me, self-evident: Withdraw all U.S. government business from that company.

United and many other airlines benefit from tens of millions in taxpayer dollars spent by thousands of federal employees all across the United States who travel on business every day of the year. They do this courtesy of huge contractual arrangements, usually negotiated by the General Services Administration.

Why permit United Airlines to enjoy the largesse of that business while thumbing its nose at those things it finds objectionable about enforcing the nation's federal immigration laws?