These German pilots stopped the deportation of over 200 asylum seekers on their flights.

Germany has become a focal point for the immigration debate in Europe.

The European nation has opened its doors to asylum-seekers and refugees looking for a safe haven. Recently, Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed to accept 10,000 U.N. refugees into the country; between January and July 2017, Germany reportedly accepted approximately 117,000 asylum seekers.

What happens to asylum seekers who are turned away? Unfortunately, if they appeal the decision regarding their rejected asylum applications and are denied, they risk deportation. According to Germany's Office of Immigration and Refugees, the country has rejected 210,000 asylum seekers.


But several German pilots have been preventing asylum seekers from being deported in a truly "Hail Mary" fashion.

Throughout all of 2017, these pilots refused to fly planes set to deport 222 Afghan asylum seekers. The stand down from these flights comes from a controversial European Union decision to designate Afghanistan as a "safe country of origin." The designation resulted in many Afghan nationals losing their asylum status.

Out of all the flights that refused to take off, 85 were operated by Lufthansa (or its subsidiary Eurowing). Most of these flights were scheduled to take off in Frankfurt and Düsseldorf, where, according to Quartz, the #WelcomeUnited campaign often holds their pro-refugee protests.

Photo by Daniel Leal-Olivias/AFP/Getty Images.

These pilots risk being punished with disciplinary measures for refusing to fly on moral grounds. However, it should be noted that some had other reasons for refusing to take off. For instance, they could cite "security reasons" for not flying a plane. "If [a pilot] has the impression that flight safety could be affected, he must refuse the transport of a passenger," Lufthansa spokesperson Michael Lamberty said in a statement to the German press.

Unlike the U.S., Germany's federal government is barred from conducting and enforcing deportation, meaning that deportation is the responsibility of the local and state governments. Therefore, these protests add more obstacles to the successful deportation of asylum seekers.

Pilots refusing to fly deportation flights are just one example of activists and airline companies pushing back against deportations.

In July, Swedish activist Elin Errson made headlines for live-streaming her refusal to sit down because an Afghan man on the flight was about to be deported.

"I want him to get off the plane because he is not safe in Afghanistan," Errson said in her live-stream. "I am trying to change my country's rules. I don't like them. It is not right to send people to hell."

In 2013, immigration activists chained themselves to courthouses to prevent jail sentences for undocumented immigrants. More recently, others have chained themselves to tires to physically block buses from carrying out deportations.

Airline companies are also taking part. For example, in June 2018, Virgin Atlantic Airlines announced they will no longer help deport immigrants. American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, and United Airlines have also publicly announced their refusal to deport immigrant children in response to President Trump's family separation policy. In addition to these, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, and Alaskan Airlines all have released public statements criticizing the U.S. immigration policy.

Let's hope other airlines take notice and join the good fight.

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

www.youtube.com

Quantum immortality?

Might we never really pass on into nothingness? Has the world ended many times before? Are we in fact doomed to spend eternity unknowingly jumping from one dimension to the next? According to one TikTok theory, the answer is yes. And it's blowing millions of minds worldwide.

Keep Reading Show less