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.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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Researchers at Harvard University have studied the connection between spanking and kids' brain development for the first time, and their findings echo what studies have indicated for years: Spanking isn't good for children.

Comments on this article will no doubt be filled with people who a) say they were spanked and "turned out fine" or b) say that the reason kids are [fill in the blank with some societal ill] these days are because they aren't spanked. However, a growing body of research points to spanking creating more problems than it solves.

"We know that children whose families use corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence," said Katie A. McLaughlin, director of the Stress & Development Lab in the Department of Psychology, and the senior researcher on the study which was published Friday in the journal Child Development. "In this study, we wanted to examine whether there was an impact of spanking at a neurobiological level, in terms of how the brain is developing."

You can read the entire study here, but the gist is that kids' brain activity was measured using an MRI machine as they reacted to photos of actors displaying "fearful" and "neutral" faces. What researchers found was that kids who had been spanked had similar brain neural responses to fearful faces as kids who had been abused.

"There were no regions of the brain where activation to fearful relative to neutral faces differed between children who were abused and children who were spanked," the authors wrote in a statement.

Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less