Dad and His Daughter Hauled Off Plane because Passenger Assumes He is a Sex Trafficker

Long story short: A dad returning from Mexico with his 3-year-old daughter who has lighter skin than his is suspected of sex trafficking her. (And not to pile on, but it was a United flight.) Despite papa having her passport, his passport, AND a notarized letter from the mom saying that she gave them her permission to travel, the authorities felt compelled to act upon a “tip” — a tip that was nothing more than a passenger’s hunch fueled by the hysteria of the moment: That 3-year-olds are being trafficked right and left in the USA.

As the mom, high school teacher Maura Furfey, wrote on The Huffington Post:

After our 3-year-old snoozed on her father’s lap for most of the flight, the plane landed. He texted me to tell me they had arrived. When the plane taxied to the gate, however, a number of officers from the Port Authority and Customs and Border Patrol boarded the plane, approached my husband and instructed him to grab his carry-ons and follow them. He and our daughter were escorted out of the plane before anyone else could get off.

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. At that point they seemed satisfied that my husband was not, in fact, trafficking our daughter. They then told me that this accusation was not coming from the CBP, who were trained to identify these kind of situations, but from a passenger on the plane. They were following protocol to act on reported suspicions such as this.

So, some questions to mull:

1 – When and how can we stop granting credibility to any and all calls to the authorities? Just because someone “sees something” and “says something” doesn’t mean they are seeing anything truly of note. Let’s not act as if every easily terrified citizen is Sherlock Holmes.

2 – How can we dial back the obsession with sex trafficking? I was at a discussion of trafficking the other night and the number bandied about was “150,000 children a year in the US are trafficked.” But I can find no proof of anywhere near that number. Here is Elizabeth Nolan Brown’s piece on the phenom. She notes that while lawmakers used to cite 300,000 sex trafficking victims, that number was

based on 1990s data published in a non-peer-reviewed paper that the primary researcher, Richard Estes, no longer endorses. The authors of that study came up with their number by speculating that certain situations—i.e., living in public housing, being a runaway, having foreign parents—place minors at risk of potential exploitation by sex traffickers. They then simply counted up the number of kids in those situations. To make a bad measure worse, anyone who fell into more than one category was counted multiple times.

Now they just fudge the numbers. Wrote Brown, “These days, federal agencies tend to stick to the vague ‘thousands’ when discussing numbers of incoming victims.”

Obviously any trafficked young person is a scandal, but as Sandi Rozek, communications director for NARSOL, the National Association for Rational Sex Offense Laws, points out: “The saddest thing is that we finally reached the point where fathers are as connected to their children as mothers are. There are even diaper changing tables in some men’s restrooms!” Just watch out for all the onlookers who assume they are living in an action movie, constantly witnessing nefarious crimes being played out IN PUBLIC right in front of them.

Isn’t flying United enough of an adrenaline rush all by itself? – L

Helllllp! 

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90 Responses to Dad and His Daughter Hauled Off Plane because Passenger Assumes He is a Sex Trafficker

  1. Workshop April 19, 2017 at 11:49 am #

    See, it’s stuff like this that make people sympathetic to Mike Tang’s response.

    It’s unfortunate that there is nothing to successfully sue over. Failing a huge financial penalty (from the individuals, not the nameless taxpayers that normally pay for this stuff), or a swift shot to the nose, it will happen again.

  2. bob magee April 19, 2017 at 11:54 am #

    I have mixed race grandchildren and I am very Irish in my appearance (I follow George Carlin’s line about not trying to get tan – I just try to get neutral).

    I have been questioned about my relationship to those girls on more than one occasion. Thankfully they are just from folks (although some have had some strange ideas to how we are connected) and not anything like this man suffered.

    I was once followed around a grocery store, out to the parking lot and then trailed when I left.

    I decided to simply shake them and go home and not get girls upset with a confrontation or a call to the police.

    Frankly I am getting quite tired of being a suspect due to my maleness

  3. Brooks April 19, 2017 at 12:02 pm #

    I can’t understand why he would need a notarized letter from the mother. Unless they are divorced.

    I once had someone in the grocery store ask me if the girl with me was actually my daughter. My response was two words, ending in “you.”

  4. Rich Wilson April 19, 2017 at 12:02 pm #

    An egregious breach of actual security as well. If they really thought his story had to be verified, then what the hell are they doing verifying it with the the person he called for them. Like sex traffickers don’t have female accomplices and they don’t set up a back story first?

    This wasn’t a standard protocol, this was “make it up as you go along so it looks like you’re doing something because this is so rare you have no idea what to really do”

  5. Tami April 19, 2017 at 12:05 pm #

    I worry about this when flying with my son, although I’m white and he’s not, so I probably won’t have as many issues as if it was the other way around. Sex trafficking is real, but the ones I hear about in the US tend to be teens in poverty and who have chaotic home lives. (That can be different in other countries.) If it is younger children, it’s usually the mom and a boyfriend doing it, not strangers. We do a disservice to the victims of real sex trafficking by jumping to the conclusion that everything is sex trafficking. We end up taking resources away from real victims by having to investigate every paranoid “hunch.”

  6. Glen April 19, 2017 at 12:13 pm #

    2 things – I say again – blame the lawyers who have everyone freaked out to just do something – even the wrong thing.

    Second – they probably got the numbers from prostitution arrests because apparently all prostitutes are now unwilling participants (which is not true).

  7. ChrisG April 19, 2017 at 12:20 pm #

    Brooks, I’m a fairly frequent international traveler and I have traveled with my daughter but without my wife on a few occasions. I read, I think it was on the CBP site but I forget exactly, that if traveling across borders it was a good idea to have a notarized letter indicating that my daughter’s mother (my wife) was aware of the travel and approved it. My understanding is that it’s to prevent people in custody cases from taking their children out of the country. That actually makes a lot more sense than thinking that someone was “trafficking” a child as I’m sure there are more nasty custody battles than there are trafficking cases.

    Found a relevant page here: https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/268/~/children—child-traveling-with-one-parent-or-someone-who-is-not-a-parent-or

    And this is from the Canadian Government (which is where I’ve traveled solo with my daughter): http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/minors.asp

  8. Donna April 19, 2017 at 12:27 pm #

    This is not exclusively a man/child issue or particularly new. When my daughter was small, I was part of an international single mother’s group. Many of the mothers told stories of difficulties they had dealing with US customs as they entered back into the US with their children solo, largely at the US/Canadian border. The issue seemed to be mostly the fear that they were stealing the children from the father (the fact that they were reentering their home country seemed lost on customs) as the drama was around establishing that the father okay’d the trip. Some were detained for hours even after providing a birth certificate that did not list a father and several traveled with notes from adoption agencies saying they had adopted solo and even doctors stating that they were artificially inseminated by donor sperm.

  9. Eric S April 19, 2017 at 12:56 pm #

    There should be a law that charges people for making false accusations. Forces them to THINK before speaking. If they won’t give their information, then nothing should become of the issue. Too many innocent people’s lives getting upended or ruined because of morons like this person who ratted out on the father. I see this as something different from anonymous tips. Anonymous tips are (should be) based of facts. eg. Someone who actually witnessed a real crime, but too afraid to come forward. Which is much different than someone having a different opinion, and obviously sanctimonious and ignorant mentality.

  10. Eric S April 19, 2017 at 1:00 pm #

    @ChrisG: Yes, that would make perfect sense. If one was divorced or separated. Should be a non-issue for those that aren’t.

  11. Christopher Byrne April 19, 2017 at 1:04 pm #

    From the latest edition of the PDR:

    GLADYS KRAVITZ SYNDROME

    A pervasive mental illness and ego disorder that combines narcissism and grandiosity into the delusion that the person alone can spot danger and report it, thereby achieving attention, praise and validation for being a vigilant caretaker. Most often afflicts adults who have been overly exposed to fear-inducing media reports and is characterized by ignorance of statistics, a lack of common sense, militant self-righteousness and an outsized perception of one’s own power.

    Treatment modalities vary and include daily reading of “Free Range Kids,” rationalistic therapy, behavior modification and being told to mind your own darn business.

  12. lollipoplover April 19, 2017 at 1:05 pm #

    Flying with children is truly the suckiest to begin with, having to defend yourself from false sex trafficking suspicions just adds to ways to make people not want to travel anymore, especially coming into the US. Especially if you don’t “match”.

  13. Donna April 19, 2017 at 1:31 pm #

    My question is where did the sex trafficking allegations come in? Did the customs officers use those words? Or did the writer insert them into this story? Because I don’t see anywhere in the facts given where the customs officers accused him of sex trafficking?

    And how does a passenger even report something to customs before the plane arrives at its destination? Possibly there was an air marshall on board who reported it, but I would not imagine an average passenger having that ability.

  14. Jason April 19, 2017 at 1:49 pm #

    How are border authorities (or anyone else) to know if someone is divorced or separated in order to know if they should verify child custody? Just ask?

    Also, the difference between someone who has witnessed a crime and someone who thinks they have witnessed a crime, is not always obvious until the circumstances have been investigated. Like the McDonald’s employee who spotted the “Facebook killer” and called the cops. If he had been mistaken, should he be prosecuted and sued?

    Just like stranger abductions, it’s ridiculous to suggest that a huge number of people are being targeted by the police due to erroneous tips from misguided busybodies, just based on anecdotal reports.

  15. theresa April 19, 2017 at 1:52 pm #

    Maybe the people actually train to known what traffickers look like should be the ones making the call. Not some passenger who if she had bother to speak to dad would learn the truth. But she chose lets tattle to flight attendit.
    When we lose the ability to talk to people. We can’t talk to kids,now adults are on the no talk list.

  16. J~ April 19, 2017 at 2:01 pm #

    What truly pisses me off about this is that the person who notified the authorities likely saw the commotion around the father and daughter and immediately felt vindicated- as if their harassment of the family proved s/he was right to report them.

    I would hope that s/he’d be pulled aside and had the situation explained to them- that this person would be informed about how cruel and unnecessary their actions had been.

    Somehow I doubt that was the case.

  17. WendyW April 19, 2017 at 2:32 pm #

    @ Donna “And how does a passenger even report something to customs before the plane arrives at its destination? ”

    Passenger tells flight attendant, who tells pilot, who radios ahead. A fairly standard procedure, but probably used more often to alert medical personnel of a sick passenger.

    I’ve seen memes on FB pushing for passengers to watch for potential trafficking of girls, so that’s probably where this fiasco originated, and I assume all airline personnel have also been briefed on the topic.

  18. Dennis Andersson April 19, 2017 at 2:49 pm #

    I wish these people would go back to seeing Elvis, aliens, or Jesus everywhere.

  19. M April 19, 2017 at 2:50 pm #

    This would never happen if a woman was traveling with her child. And it infuriates me.

    When a man is at the park, or the zoo, or near a school, he immediately becomes suspect. God forbid he drives a white mini-van!

    How are we supporting fathers? They’ve been stopped leaving Walmart with their kids, pulled off a plane, grilled by police at the park, and are generally treated like shit. We are punishing the loving fathers who spend time with their kids with this attitude.

  20. The other Mandy April 19, 2017 at 3:42 pm #

    I was recently traveling solo with kids (4, 2, and infant). I guess I’m lucky nobody assumed I was trafficking them. (Actually the dad with kids in the row ahead of us–maybe he was a trafficker!!– commented on how I didn’t need the leash for the 2 year old on the way home.)

  21. Neil M April 19, 2017 at 3:52 pm #

    How horrific! This is part and parcel of the “see something, say something” mentality we are encouraged to adopt, in which what is normal is defined by the most paranoid person in any situation.

    Also, this is unadulterated racism. The passenger is both unhinged and bigoted, and United should be ashamed of itself for acting on this.

  22. Donna April 19, 2017 at 4:05 pm #

    “Passenger tells flight attendant, who tells pilot, who radios ahead. A fairly standard procedure, but probably used more often to alert medical personnel of a sick passenger.”

    I understand how the flight personnel can talk to the ground. A PASSENGER being able to pass accusations to customs through this system seems absolutely insane. That would require a flight attendant who has no personal concern as to the safety of this child asking the pilot to send a message and a pilot who has no personal concern as to the safety of this child actually sending the message. Do they relay accusations for all passengers? I’m flying in a few weeks. If I don’t like one of my seat mates can I simply accuse him of committing some crime for which nobody has any evidence whatsoever and the flight attendant and pilot will oblige me and have federal agents waiting at the gate to arrest him? That is a lot of power to give to people you know nothing about other than they bought a seat on a plane.

  23. SKL April 19, 2017 at 4:29 pm #

    I don’t mind that they questioned him briefly and let him go.

    As a frequent traveler with daughters who don’t look like me, I’ve been through many different screenings before and after flights. My kids and I are used to it. It gets annoying when it takes hours to get through security / customs, but it’s never just us in those cases, so we just deal.

    When they scrutinized, questioned, and patted down my then-6yo daughters on the way out of India, I was actually glad to see that they were watching out for a problem that does really happen there.

    The problem in my view is whatever is causing people to think “sex trafficking” as a knee-jerk reaction. I mean, if you really thought the little girl had been kidnapped, then yeah, you should say something. But was there any rational reason to think that?

  24. SKL April 19, 2017 at 4:37 pm #

    I disagree with those saying it’s wrong to require a letter from the other parent (if there is another parent) when a child leaves the country. There are many cases of parents illegally taking their kids out of the country to disrupt the other parent’s legal custody. It is good that border officials have policies to help prevent this.

    Anyone traveling internationally with kids needs to look up the rules on both sides of the border. See if there are additional documents you should carry, and carry them.

  25. Donna April 19, 2017 at 5:03 pm #

    How effective is a notarized letter really unless they do what they did here and call the other parent for confirmation? A spur of the moment abduction may be stopped, but not someone who put some planning into their kidnapping.

    And the only people I’ve ever known who have been questioned have been questioned reentering the US. Are people really kidnapping their children to other countries and then bringing them back at high levels?

  26. david April 19, 2017 at 5:05 pm #

    It doesn’t help that some law enforcement agencies conduct online stings and call whoever they happen to entrap a “sex trafficker”. Or how what we used to call prostitution is now “sex trafficking”. It sounds scary…AND it has the word “sex” in the title. Perfect for helping fuel our nation’s hysteria regarding sex.

    And enough with the lies and made up data regarding sex crimes. Bad laws are passed using fear and mis-information. The consequence is millions of lives ruined with little to no benefit to society. In fact, our children are less safe because of our sex crime laws.

  27. hineata April 19, 2017 at 5:09 pm #

    @M – men do have worse issues than women, no doubt, but like SKL I have been questioned at borders too. Just a little extra ‘fun’ when your kids are darker or lighter than you are ☺.

  28. SKL April 19, 2017 at 5:19 pm #

    Donna, the letter would be for leaving the child’s home country with the child.

    I don’t know what they were thinking exactly with this guy, but my first thought is they were not sure this was his kid. The US-side officials would not know what all was checked when he got on the plane to make sure he had a right to take that kid.

    I don’t know whether there is a lot of sex trafficking out of Mexico, but there is a lot out of some countries, and it isn’t the kids’ parents taking them across the borders.

    Anyhoo, they let the guy out of the plane first, asked him some questions, called his wife, and let him go. They didn’t stop him from flying to his destination or harm him in any other way, as far as I know. Maybe they could have spoken more gently for the kid’s sake, though we really don’t know how unpleasant they were. 3yos cry for a lot of things.

  29. Derek W Logue of OnceFallen.com April 19, 2017 at 5:30 pm #

    Maybe United should change their slogan to Fly the Paranoid Skies or something,.

  30. Derek W Logue of OnceFallen.com April 19, 2017 at 5:32 pm #

    Also, I can almost visualize this scene going down somewhat like the airplane scene from Harold and Kumar: Escape from Guantanamo Bay.

  31. Library Momma April 19, 2017 at 5:33 pm #

    And then there’s the irony that the airlines won’t allow children under a certain age to fly alone, yet other passengers can report parents who accompany their children on a flight if they look suspicious, whatever that entails.

    Also, it’s my experience that you can’t get a passport for children under 16 (I think) in the United States without at least one parent being present and showing a certified birth certificate. I think even both parents have to be present or at least have a notarized letter from the other giving permission to apply for the child’s passport.

  32. red April 19, 2017 at 5:39 pm #

    @Brook: It’s recommended that you travel with a notarized letter (from the other parent) authorizing the travel if you are a single parent traveling internationally with a child. That goes back to the 1980s/1990s issues with children being parental kidnapped aboard (another thing that yes happened, but was also totally blown out of control by the media).

    I travel regularly with my son to meet up with his father overseas (dad goes overseas on a business trip, we fly out when the business trip is concluded to vacation). I carry that letter because IF they decide to request it and you don’t have it, you’re not flying.

    I’ve also heard it’s pretty much required to cross as a single parent with child into Canada. That the Canadian border authority almost always request it. We live near the Canada border and I know people in real life who have been denied entry with their kid to Canada due to lack of the letter.

  33. James Pollock April 19, 2017 at 5:44 pm #

    I don’t think this is because he’s a guy. I think it’s because his skin isn’t the correct color.

  34. Donna April 19, 2017 at 5:46 pm #

    “Donna, the letter would be for leaving the child’s home country with the child.”

    I realize that is what the letter is supposed to be for, however, I know numerous people who have had extensive issues, including being detained at the border for hours while someone obtained and faxed a copy of the mother’s death certificate, when returning back into the US.

  35. Yocheved April 19, 2017 at 6:17 pm #

    Lenore, you need to add the tags “Racism, Sexism, and Eek! a male!”

  36. Anna April 19, 2017 at 6:18 pm #

    Apart from cases like this, where the (biological) child is a different color, what about adopted and foster kids of different skin tones? It seems a bit backward to me to be assuming that parents and children must have matching skin tones.

  37. James Pollock April 19, 2017 at 6:40 pm #

    ” what about adopted and foster kids of different skin tones? It seems a bit backward to me to be assuming that parents and children must have matching skin tones.”

    Well, statistically, adopted and foster kids are near the top of actual trafficking risk factors.

    For that matter, proving that a man is actually the child’s biological father, and has permission from the mother to travel with the child, does not prove that the child was not sex trafficked.

  38. Emily April 19, 2017 at 7:53 pm #

    When I was a kid, my parents gave me the “stranger danger” talk. They told me that, if I was ever at the park (or wherever), and a strange man tried to take me away, I should fight, kick, scream, et cetera, and run as fast as I can to tell an adult……BUT, they also warned me that this could easily look like “child throwing a tantrum because her father wants to leave the park and she doesn’t.” So, since our society seems to be experiencing exactly the opposite problem now, I’d like to suggest exactly the opposite solution. If some busybody calls the authorities on a father and child together, and the authorities try to arrest or detain them, the child should yell either “This IS my father!!!!” (or grandfather, uncle, older brother, or whatever relation he is to them), or “This is not a sex trafficker!!!!”

  39. Roxie April 19, 2017 at 8:30 pm #

    That must be the “men are pigs” bandwagon in a nutshell and not all about the skin color.

  40. donald April 19, 2017 at 9:53 pm #

    Here is a quote by Rick Rude from All Star Wrestling.

    “What I’d like right now, is for all you corn-fed, Ohio sweat hogs to shut your mouths so I can take my robe off and show your ladies what a real man looks like.”

    I don’t mean to go off topic but comments like this are the same as:
    “150,000 children a year in the US are trafficked.”

    These comments are primarily for entertainment.

  41. donald April 19, 2017 at 10:15 pm #

    I understand the need for people to be able to have anonymous reporting, however, I think things have gone too far. I agree that they should remain anonymous. However, something needs to be done such as a ‘Busybody registry’ that’s for police and CPS eyes only.

    At the moment, anyone can work the police as a puppet on a string. Remember the old days when a bully could take your lunch money? Times have changed. Now anybody can have CPS give someone a barbwire enema as they try to keep their children from being stolen.

  42. SKL April 19, 2017 at 10:29 pm #

    I finally read the linked article. The writer sensationalizes this “horrible experience” just as much as that ikea lady did about the “sex trafficking” incident she so narrowly escaped.

    I understand being offended by a white person’s assumption that a darker skinned person couldn’t have had reason to be traveling alone with a little white girl. I’m not sure how she managed to “tip off” the flight attendant without the person next to her noticing, but whatever. I dunno, based on the way the writer made every normal thing sound traumatic, I feel her credibility is in question.

    It seems to be a new fad to whine about bad horrible things happening at airports these days. Most of these bad horrible things are actually normal things that are done to people of all colors, and have been for many years.

  43. Jennifer C April 19, 2017 at 11:57 pm #

    This panic about trafficking is getting insane. Only today a FB friend posted that over 20 people in our area (Hampton Roads) have been abducted by gangs for human trafficking? Her proof? Nothing, only that she ‘heard neighbors talking’. The story behind this story is a post going around warning us about a lady riding around on a bike, dressed in a hot pink hoodie and sunglasses, with a Russian accent. Her crime? Taking photos of kids playing in the yard–and for that she’s listed as a member of a ‘human trafficking gang’. How this story graduated to 20 people being abducted I don’t know–but I’ve been called heartless for not believing it. But it’s this kind of panic that leads people to suspect something sinister about an ordinary dad and his daughter.

  44. James Pollock April 20, 2017 at 12:49 am #

    All together now.

    Sex trafficking is a real thing.
    It’s really bad when it happens.
    But it happens to A) illegal immigrants (because they can’t go to law enforcement for help), B) young people who have no support network (poor links to family leading to a wish to “belong”), and C) people who choose prostitution willingly, and then find that the way back out is closed to them. Sex trafficking victims are almost never kidnapped. There ARE people, including children, who are kidnapped and sexually abused; there are children who are sexually abused by people the parents trusted. But these are three separate categories of bad things with very little overlap, with one exception; kids that are sexually abused are more likely to run away from home, and thus fall into the hands of sex traffickers.

    The people who are sex trafficked are physically adults… because most of the customers willing to pay for sex want to have sex with adults… young adults, but adults. You make money buy having something that people want to buy, and most people do not want to have sex with children.

    OK?

    So, let’s conserve our energy for fighting the actual traffickers and their actual trafficking victims.

  45. donald April 20, 2017 at 1:50 am #

    The term ‘sex trafficker’ is similar to ‘sex offender’.

    There are some dangerous sex offenders. However, the net has been cast wide to include amazingly stupid stuff. Giving someone a BA (bare a$$) is a f#$k you or a gesture like flipping someone the finger. However, a BA can get you on the sex offense registry.

    There are some children that are kidnapped and sold as sex slaves. However, the net has also been cast wide to include amazingly stupid stuff.

    The problem with casting the net wide is that you ‘water down’ the real thing. This is one of the few occasions that I agree with James.

    “So, let’s conserve our energy for fighting the actual traffickers and their actual trafficking victims.”

    ‘Watering down’ helps the real sex traffickers/sex offenders to hide better. This is because we end up wasting resources by following the fake sex traffickers/sex offenders.

  46. rudster April 20, 2017 at 2:05 am #

    “They didn’t stop him from flying to his destination or harm him in any other way, as far as I know.”

    Sure. And African-Americans who used to have to ride at the back of the bus still got to the same place at the same time, so no harm done, right?

  47. rudster April 20, 2017 at 2:56 am #

    ‘Most of these bad horrible things are actually normal things that are done to people of all colors, and have been for many years.’

    SKl, I don’t know where you fly or on what airlines, being marched off the aircraft by law enforcement officers as soon as the plane has landed and subjected to separate interrogation has never been ‘normal’. What is normal to be asked similar questions at the immigration counter – I’ve experienced it myself when traveling alone with one of my children, even though we’re both as white as they come.

  48. Suzanne Lucas April 20, 2017 at 4:01 am #

    I’ve flown in and out of the US with my kids sans husband multiple times. No one has ever thought anything about it. In the US, in order to get a passport for your under 16 kid you have to have both parents present and/or a notarized form from the absent parent giving permission. You shouldn’t need anything other than a passport because the existence of the passport indicates both parents have given permission to travel.

    But people are off their rockers in general.

    And the immigration guy did ask my kids their ages last time we flew, I guess in an attempt to see if they were being kidnapped, although back to their home country makes no sense, since we were flying in on US passports. But US customs and immigration is the worst out of all the countries I’ve visited–and I’ve visited A LOT.

  49. rudster April 20, 2017 at 5:42 am #

    ‘because the existence of the passport indicates both parents have given permission to travel’.

    Not exactly – it just means that both parents have consented to issuance of a passport. A children’s passport lasts for 5 years, during which time lots of things can happen, such as a subsequent custody dispute and family court decree preventing a parent from traveling abroad with the child.

  50. Donna April 20, 2017 at 5:59 am #

    SKL – What happened here is not normal. I have traveled by plane extensively in my life. I have NEVER seen someone met at a plane and escorted off to be interrogated about their child. A couple of questions during customs? Sure. Armed escort off the plane by 4 customs officers? Never.

    I find it very interesting that you are insensed that someone would call the police when they see a distraught child wandering down the street alone, but calling customs officers for a perfectly happy child sleeping in her father’s lap such that he gets escorted off a plane, detained and interrogated is a-ok.

  51. Angela April 20, 2017 at 8:26 am #

    UGH! We had another story here yesterday. Attempted kidnapping – description given (black man, of course), location given, comments under the article include, “Next time – shoot to kill!”

    Update today notes “police learned the child had become entangled in some landscape material, which caused the child to become quite upset. Officials said investigators are still exploring all possibilities, including that the person came to the child’s aid and his actions were misinterpreted” And now they want the guy to come forward – after being accused of kidnapping? Yeah, right, he’ll be right over.

    So, who accused the guy of kidnapping in the first place? Did they see the child become entangled, see a guy approach the child and then decide it was a kidnapping? Did no one witness it, and when the child told a parent this was the fantasy they created in their head?

    Let’s take bets on whether the “shoot to kill” guy reappears………….

  52. Beth April 20, 2017 at 8:57 am #

    @Angela, I’m in that same city!

    I saw the story yesterday, written in the vein of “girl playing quietly in her own front yard, black male grabs her and won’t let go, tries to leave with her” hysteria.

    Then heard the update and on the car radio this morning, and though the same as you – yeah, he’s going to go talk to the police RIGHT NOW.

  53. SKL April 20, 2017 at 9:30 am #

    I agree that IF the writer is telling the un-exaggerated truth, then what happened is not normal. However, the tone is so over the top about every step taken, my credibility meter is just not buying it.

    I did say it’s wrong that the other passenger (allegedly) assumed and reported based apparently on sex / skin color alone. It’s also wrong that we have elements in our society encouraging this kind of thinking.

    When I said “normal” I was talking about the many sensationalized incidents I see weekly on the internet – the assumption is always that people are being treated differently because of color or nationality. Yet I as a white person traveling with white people (before kids) have seen this happen many many times. People who don’t travel much are being encouraged to fear and protest normal everyday procedure. And where they should be teaching their kids to expect and accept security / immigration screenings, they are teaching them to fear. This is likely to result in irrational reactions and more problems. Go with the flow, people. Get through it and get home. If you really believe you’ve been attacked for no good reason, report it and ask for the video that was most certainly taken on the security cameras at the time of your incident.

  54. SKL April 20, 2017 at 11:16 am #

    Also, I believe Donna said it earlier, but the article didn’t say “sex” anywhere, just “child trafficking.” There are other reasons people traffic children other than sex. Not that any of them apply here, but we also need to be careful of making assumptions and adding sensationalism by mentally adding “sex” where it wasn’t actually said or implied.

  55. Jack April 20, 2017 at 11:19 am #

    The sex offender hysteria is nothing but a tool for the war on men just like the registry is the double standards of sexual related crimes between men and women are a easy indicator for this as well.

  56. SKL April 20, 2017 at 11:27 am #

    The actual international child trafficking cases I’m personally aware of were perpetrated by women….

  57. Jennifer C April 20, 2017 at 12:38 pm #

    SKL–there was recently a post on FB telling people to ‘be vigilant’–that if you see an adult or child together who are a different race the child might be a trafficking victim. These things are frequently shared and spread like wildfire. The person who reported this probably somehow thought she was ‘saving’ the child.

  58. Lois Marshall April 20, 2017 at 1:06 pm #

    “See something say something” reminds me a bit too much of the denunciation “Turn in your neighbor” campaign that went on in Nazi Germany. Reporting a crime is one thing, but gossip turned informer with NO proof is too nasty for me!

  59. John B. April 20, 2017 at 1:07 pm #

    Sigh……..you basically had a vigilante wanabee here who was out to “save the children” and be hailed as a national hero. Obviously authorities are protecting the person’s privacy so he or she will remain anonymous but it’s the poor dad who has to suffer the brunt of this person’s wild judgment.

  60. John B. April 20, 2017 at 1:14 pm #

    “SKL–there was recently a post on FB telling people to ‘be vigilant’–that if you see an adult or child together who are a different race the child might be a trafficking victim.”

    In any other situation that would be considered racism and unconstitutional. If it were a white male with a black or Asian woman and a person suspected the man of being a sex trafficker, the accuser would be considered ” racist and ignorantly presumptuous” BUT since a child is involved, all-of-a-sudden, the constitution doesn’t apply.

  61. SKL April 20, 2017 at 1:53 pm #

    If it were true that being a different race is a red flag, then the law enforcement authorities on both sides of the border would know that and act on it. And who knows, maybe they did in this case. Maybe the guy’s and his daughter’s passports were looked at a little more closely etc. before he took off.

    It strikes me as odd that a passenger just assumed that the trained authorities didn’t have as much insight into international crimes as she did. But then, she was reportedly drunk, so ….

    I do think that, for those in authority / mandated reporters, there’s a fine line between “check just in case” and “you need some proof before you disturb people’s peace.” After all, there are many cases where officials chose the latter and people ended up badly harmed. And there are cases where the former was chosen and someone was harmed by that. Which would you rather be guilty of – inconveniencing a passenger with a brief questioning, or failing to stop a crime against a child? Keeping in mind that there is probably a record of the “witness’s” allegation. And we don’t know what she reported exactly – was it more than just “I have a bad feeling about this guy”? Maybe she claimed that the child or the father said or did disturbing things. Even if untrue, at some point officials have to investigate.

    And again, I’m not saying no wrong was done here, but I don’t agree that officials should ignore reports as if child trafficking is a big fairy tale. It does exist and it is a very serious crime.

  62. James Pollock April 20, 2017 at 2:13 pm #

    “In any other situation that would be considered racism and unconstitutional. If it were a white male with a black or Asian woman and a person suspected the man of being a sex trafficker, the accuser would be considered ” racist and ignorantly presumptuous” BUT since a child is involved, all-of-a-sudden, the constitution doesn’t apply.”

    Exactly which part of the constitution is violated by having a FB post telling people to watch out for anything?
    Here, let’s test it.

    Watch out for white males accompanied by black or asian women, who may or may not claim to be married to each other. They may be sex trafficking victims!

    Now… which part of the Constitution has been violated? Or do I have to put it on Facebook, specifically?

  63. Clair April 20, 2017 at 2:18 pm #

    This sort of ridiculous nonsense happens to dads frequently. I know a man who took the week off to watch his kids on school break. He brought them shopping and someone followed him to the parking lot to berate him for helping his kids “skip class” then reported him to the police and CPS saying he was not supervising them properly in the store (the youngest was sent to find eggs while in line and was briefly out of sight). That was the start of several months of “investigating”. The family isn’t the same now, they barely let the kids do anything on their own and they are never allowed outside to play. People don’t realize it only takes one false claim to destroy a family’s sense of well-being.

  64. SKL April 20, 2017 at 2:24 pm #

    Clair, where I live, it’s the other way around. A dad who spends time with his kids is treated with awe. As a professional, a dad who puts kids ahead of work is a hero, a woman who does it is irresponsible. I used to have a boss who took a day off every summer just to take his daughter shopping for school clothes. Can you imagine a woman doing that? Never happen.

  65. David N. Brown April 20, 2017 at 3:44 pm #

    It’s not clear whether anyone raised the (ridiculous) sex trafficking angle. Serious law enforcement would be far more concerned about custodial interference-valid, esp without further info on the parents’ marital status- or extra legal adoption. It’s also possible someone wanted a pretense to check the dad’s citizenship status.

  66. Ben April 20, 2017 at 4:34 pm #

    So you have legal passports and a notarized letter from mom. How is that not enough?

  67. jimc5499 April 20, 2017 at 4:51 pm #

    Donna,
    A flight attendant does not have to go through the pilot to talk to the ground. There is a dedicated communications system for just the flight attendants. This is usually a text system that allows them to report on the condition of the aircraft and consumables to enable a quick turn around on the ground. I wish that they HAD to go through the pilot to do this. It would have added an extra layer of scrutiny and a chance to have stopped this.

  68. SKL April 20, 2017 at 5:05 pm #

    I don’t think the pilot should have anything to do with this. The pilot should be flying the plane and dealing with serious matters that could affect his ability to fly the plane safely. What’s the pilot going to do, go question the guy there in the plane? Make him open his carry-ons and produce the letter? And then what? Tell the drunk lady to shut up? Call the mom from the plane? Take the kid into custody right there?

  69. Donna April 20, 2017 at 5:20 pm #

    “In any other situation that would be considered racism and unconstitutional. If it were a white male with a black or Asian woman and a person suspected the man of being a sex trafficker, the accuser would be considered ” racist and ignorantly presumptuous” BUT since a child is involved, all-of-a-sudden, the constitution doesn’t apply.”

    Huh? The accuser may be considered racist or ignorantly presumptuous, but it is not actually unconstitutional (or even illegal) to be racist or ignorantly presumptuous. It is unconstitutional for certain entities to refuse service based on race, but there is no constitutional prohibition on individuals being racist.

    Nor is there any constitutional prohibition on individuals putting racist things anywhere on the internet. You could find a multitude of webpages dedicated to racist groups and ideas without much effort if you looked. I bet some even have Facebook pages.

  70. Ray April 21, 2017 at 7:55 am #

    Moral of the story: assume sex traffickers already know this and question any white father travelling with a white child.

  71. Tim April 21, 2017 at 10:53 am #

    I would not be surprised if their “protocol” doesn’t actually stipulate that they rudely detain and interrogate everyone pointed out by random people on airplanes. I think he has good grounds for a lawsuit.

    Even if their protocol is poorly written and does stipulate this, that does not mean it’s valid. He may still have grounds for a lawsuit for being improperly detained and harassed.

  72. James Pollock April 21, 2017 at 11:35 am #

    “Moral of the story: assume sex traffickers already know this and question any white father travelling with a white child.”

    Sexist, much?
    Guess which parent is usually implicated when parents traffic their own kids?

    “I think he has good grounds for a lawsuit.”

    One of the things actual lawyers sometimes have to do is explain to someone that no, they can’t sue somebody over that.
    You have to go WAY beyond “rudely taken off plane” to hit lawsuit territory.
    Take, for example, the suspected drug mule who was detained, manually probed, forced to consume laxatives, x-rayed, and finally surgically probed. (The man was presented with a hospital bill for the surgery, too.)

  73. David April 21, 2017 at 12:00 pm #

    A father doesn’t need a notarized letter from Mom granting him permission to travel with his child. All he needs is proof that he’s married to the child’s mother, his own identification and the child’s birth certificate listing him as the father because parents who are married to each other are deemed by law to have equal rights to their children.

  74. John B. April 21, 2017 at 1:36 pm #

    “Watch out for white males accompanied by black or asian women, who may or may not claim to be married to each other. They may be sex trafficking victims!

    Now… which part of the Constitution has been violated? Or do I have to put it on Facebook, specifically?”

    I didn’t say putting it up on Facebook was unconstitutional. There is such a thing called freedom of speech. But if the white male was contained by law enforcement and inquisitioned merely because he was accompanying a black or Asian woman who very well could be his girlfriend, that is unconstitutional. I’m certain the ACLU would agree with me. So how is it any different if a white male was accompanying an Asian or African-American child who very well could be his adopted child?

  75. James Pollock April 21, 2017 at 1:49 pm #

    “All he needs is proof that he’s married to the child’s mother, his own identification and the child’s birth certificate listing him as the father because parents who are married to each other are deemed by law to have equal rights to their children”
    This is a pretty severe oversimplification. There are ways to lose parental rights other than by divorce, and ways to get restricted from leaving the country with your child other than divorce court.

    “But if the white male was contained by law enforcement and inquisitioned merely because he was accompanying a black or Asian woman who very well could be his girlfriend, that is unconstitutional. I’m certain the ACLU would agree with me.”

    Not at the border, no, and not if there’s a factual basis.. The ACLU might agree with you, but the courts do not. Guess whose vote wins?

  76. John B. April 21, 2017 at 2:02 pm #

    “Huh? The accuser may be considered racist or ignorantly presumptuous, but it is not actually unconstitutional (or even illegal) to be racist or ignorantly presumptuous.”:

    When seeing a crazy warning like this on Facebook (adult/child of different race could be sex trafficking), the implication there is to notify law enforcement otherwise, what is the use of being suspicious of it? What I’m saying is police detaining a white adult male just because he is accompanying a child of a different color or race (Same with black adult male accompanying child of different color/race) and putting him thru intense questioning, is unconstitutional. Sure, people have a right to post it on Facebook and people have a right to be racist and ignorantly presumptuous but what do these people expect to come about from their crazy warning??

    I think these same people would not blink an eyelash if they saw a white male accompanying a black or Asian woman and would agree that it would be unconstitutional for police to question him over it but if it were a CHILD of another race they’d expect law enforcement to put him through the run-around. So what is the difference?

  77. John B. April 21, 2017 at 2:04 pm #

    “The ACLU might agree with you, but the courts do not.”

    I believe you are wrong about that James.

  78. SKL April 21, 2017 at 2:25 pm #

    How exactly does one prove that one is married to the child’s mother? Wouldn’t it be easier to prove the mom allowed the travel?

    Also, it may be true that both married parents have the same rights, but neither parent has the right to take the kid abroad without the other parent’s consent.

  79. SKL April 21, 2017 at 2:28 pm #

    Racism, like stupidity, is not illegal. Certain racially-motivated acts of discrimination by certain people are.

    On the other hand, you can’t refuse to look into a matter just because the accused is a person of color and you think the accuser might be racist.

  80. James Pollock April 21, 2017 at 3:02 pm #

    ” What I’m saying is police detaining a white adult male just because he is accompanying a child of a different color or race (Same with black adult male accompanying child of different color/race) and putting him thru intense questioning, is unconstitutional.”

    I asked you this before, and you forgot(?) to answer. What part of the Constitution are you alleging has been violated? Point to the part of the Constitution that says “parents must not be intensely questioned at the border”.

    “I think these same people would not blink an eyelash if they saw a white male accompanying a black or Asian woman and would agree that it would be unconstitutional for police to question him over it”
    Yeah. But border inspection is not done by police.

    ” So what is the difference?”
    There isn’t one. Inspection at the border applies to everyone who wants to cross. Men, women, children, in any shade of skin, in any combination they choose to present themselves.

  81. Donna April 21, 2017 at 3:40 pm #

    “What I’m saying is police detaining a white adult male just because he is accompanying a child of a different color or race (Same with black adult male accompanying child of different color/race) and putting him thru intense questioning, is unconstitutional.”

    That is not what is happening in your scenario.

    First, border agents are not police officers and there is wider latitude as to searches and seizures at the border.

    Second, they are not stopping these people of their own accord. They are responding to a complaint. The underlying racism of the complaintant is irrelevant. If I call the police to report a suspicious black male is casing my house, the police have not committed a constitutional violation by investigation my complaint even if the only reason that I believe the person is suspicious and casing my house is because he is black.

    Now if CBP was themselves advertising for airline passengers to report all males traveling with children of another race to them as potential child traffickers, you MAY have a constitutional issue. Even that is questionable since men with children of a different race are not a protected class of people. However, some idiot posting this nonsense on FB that other people actually believe which causes them to make complaints of potential child trafficking to CBP does not have any constitutional implications at all.

  82. Dean April 21, 2017 at 9:01 pm #

    Guessing that this dad and daughter duo were of Mexican background.
    Sadly, a lot of Americans don’t realize that Mexicans come in all shades. My Mexican friend is Caucasian/white, and his wife a toasty light tan. Their five kids run from VERY dark brown (she calls herself “La Negra”), to almost paper-white.

  83. Jenn Jones April 23, 2017 at 11:05 am #

    The daughter is healthy and happy…and Not being trafficked. An hour of discomfort is well worth the risk seeing as how so many children really are being kidnapped and trafficked. Thank God it wasn’t that little girl, but what about the little girl who is. 300,000 or 100,000 or 10,000 or 100. It is worth the hastle to check out all possibilities. I don’t mind TBA going through my stuff or taking away my $10 water bottle if it means the slightest chance of my plane being blown up. Why can’t we take the same precautions for children. It wasn’t his daughter… today. But what if it was?

  84. Jennifer C April 23, 2017 at 11:57 am #

    Actually, not all that many children in the US are being ‘kidnapped and trafficked’. And no, it’s not worth it to harass and detain innocent people because of unfounded fears brought upon by watching too much cable news and urban legends passed around on social media.

  85. SKL April 23, 2017 at 12:02 pm #

    Jennifer C, it wouldn’t be the US statistics that are relevant here, but the statistics south of the border.

    I don’t know what those statistics are, but I’m assuming the people responsible for making border policies have some clue about them.

  86. Jennifer C April 23, 2017 at 12:31 pm #

    SKL–yes, you are right. But the hysteria about this subject, in my opinion, is really overblown–particularly in this country. My friend is still claiming that 20 people have been kidnapped by traffickers–though the police have ‘kept it secret’ from the press (WTH?), and that sex-trafficking gangs are waiting to nab women and children any time they dare to step foot outside. And she won’t listen to anyone who says otherwise, not even our friend who works for federal law enforcement.

  87. James Pollock April 23, 2017 at 1:09 pm #

    Hysteria over sex trafficking is not a modern invention. The Mann Act is over 100 years old.

  88. SKL April 23, 2017 at 2:30 pm #

    Again, we haven’t seen where the guy was accused of “sex” trafficking. That might just be our own hysteria talking.

  89. John B. April 24, 2017 at 12:55 pm #

    “Now if CBP was themselves advertising for airline passengers to report all males traveling with children of another race to them as potential child traffickers, you MAY have a constitutional issue”

    BINGO!!!

  90. Papilio April 24, 2017 at 1:39 pm #

    ““See something say something” reminds me a bit too much of the denunciation “Turn in your neighbor” campaign that went on in Nazi Germany.”

    *cough cough* East Germany / DDR *cough cough*