Imagine being accused of child trafficking because your children have lighter skin than you do. That’s what happened on a United Airlines flight.
Disclaimer: just like I don’t trust Breitbart News, I don’t generally trust the Huffington Post. However, the source of this story is a firsthand account from the mother.
She explains why her husband has dark skin and her children have light skin:
My husband is Mexican. I am of Irish descent. Our daughter, three years old, looks like both of us: she has dark hair and almond eyes with white skin. They had traveled to Mexico to spend time with his mother, her grandmother, who they see but once a year. This was precious time, time for my daughter to connect with her father’s side of the family…
Then recounts what happened:
The “incident”: another passenger on the plane, who was obviously inebriated, accused my husband of child trafficking. She claimed that my fair-skinned daughter didn’t look like her Mexican father, and stoked suspicion that he had kidnapped her. This passenger had no basis for this claim, nor any evidence to back it up.
Stop. I think claiming the other passenger was drunk let’s her off too easily. It also conflicts with later remarks about the passenger–
The passenger who shared her “concern” with the flight attendants had been sitting next to my husband. According to him, she had been friendly throughout the flight, but my husband noticed her strange obsession with our daughter, sometimes throwing her body over his to try to engage my daughter.
It seems to me this passenger was either racist or crazy.
So what happened? Port Authority and CBP officials met the flight, escorted them off, interrogated them, and only let them go when the father’s story was corroborated with the mother’s.
Flight Attendants are Encouraged to Report “Suspicions” of Kidnapping
By law (see this .pdf), all flight attendants receive mandatory “Human Trafficking Recognition and Response” training.
This training is part of the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016 and mandates–
Each air carrier provide F/As with initial and annual training regarding recognizing and responding to potential human trafficking victims.
If a FA receives a “tip” from a passenger, s/he is strongly encouraged to report it to authorities.
This Story Makes No Sense
Based on the Flyertalk reaction, it seems many advocate for the “safe” approach and say a FA should have reported it out of an abundance of caution. After all, The FA can’t play detective and should leave it to law enforcement to sort out.
That’s exactly right, though I draw an opposite conclusion. Playing detective means playing into unfounded innuendo without using common sense. Let’s review — passenger passports are checked departing Mexico and passengers face rigorous passport control upon entering the United States. Thus, I see no valid reason for a FA to flag a family traveling together due to a difference in melanin levels.
Doesn’t it scare you that a fellow passenger could, for whatever vindictive reason, look at me holding my son, “tip off” FAs that I may be trafficking him, and I would be met by authorities and harshly interrogated?
This story rubs me the wrong way on so many levels. It is pathetic that a man traveling with his daughters is viewed as inherently suspect. Whether on a gender or racial basis, I wish people would keep their prejudices to themselves.