How to use your airline miles to reunite immigrant and refugee families
Under President Donald Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy, thousands of immigrant children were separated from their families by border patrol agents and kept in detention centers this summer. Although more than 1,400 children have been reunited with their parents over the past few weeks, hundreds remain separated. On Monday, August 6th, Beth Wilensky, a law professor at University of Michigan, tweeted a simple solution for travelers looking to help out.
Charity organizations are accepting donations of frequent flier miles to reunite immigrants, refugees, and families seeking asylum. Wilensky said her husband used his frequent flier miles “to fly a 3-yr-old and his dad, who had been separated at the border, from Michigan (where the son had been taken) to their extended family.” Miles4Migrants is an organization that collects frequent flier miles and puts them towards “the relocation of those displaced by war and persecution to start a new beginning in a new home.”
Since Wilensky’s tweet went viral, Miles4Migrants has received more than 4 million miles. The organization said it will be able to fly at least 220 people with the donations. “[We] have big plans for use of these miles,” Andy Freedman, a spokesperson for Miles4Migrants, told Lifehacker, “both to support separated immigrant families, and continue our global family reunification work with refugees around the world.”
Other organizations including Immigrant Families Together and Michigan Support Circle are also accepting donations of frequent flier miles to reunite immigrant families. United Airlines and Uber have partnered with legal organization FWD.us to donate transportation to detainees. For more ways to make your travel socially impactful, check out our guides to being a citizen diplomat while on the road and packing emergency supplies for communities in need.