A United plane just called Port Authority and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers on a Mexican father and daughter after a drunk passenger accused the father of child trafficking.
Spanish teacher Maura Furfey wrote in the Huffington Post that she was horrified to get a phone call from the CBP and hear that there had been an “incident” involving her family.
“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.”
Furfey’s daughter had been peacefully sleeping in her father’s lap for most of the flight. Her husband had no idea there was a problem until after they’d landed, when the CBP boarded the plane and instructed him to come with them.
“Once out of the plane, four officers from Port Authority and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) surrounded them. They fired so many questions at him that he didn’t know who was asking what. He had no idea what was going on. Our daughter started to cry in all of the commotion.
“After asking about where our daughter was born, who was there, and where her birth certificate had been issued, they asked for my phone number; that was when they called me, asking me the same questions in order to verify the story.”
Only after hearing from Furfey, who is of Irish descent, did they release her family from custody.
“There was no indication whatsoever ― other than the passenger’s racially charged observation ― that my husband had anything but a perfectly normal, loving relationship with his daughter. There had been no incident. There will always be individuals who make racist remarks ― my husband and I are no strangers to this fact. Again, my husband is Mexican. Therefore, he is a target, and in effect, so is our family.
“We never thought, however, that flight attendants on a major airline ― United Airlines ― would choose to take such an observation seriously ― and in doing so, that the Port Authority and CBP would drag my husband and daughter off an airplane and interrogate them with a presumption of guilt. Never mind that he was traveling with a green card, carrying passports with the same last name and a notarized letter stating that I was allowing my daughter to travel to México for the week.”
Furfey filed a complaint with the customer service department, who eventually apologized and offered her a $100.000 which, to Furfey, is useless. Like so many people in recent weeks, she has vowed to never fly United again.
Nathan Wellman is a Los Angeles-based journalist, author, and playwright. His less-political Youtube channel can be found here. Follow him on Twitter: @LightningWOW