CAPAC Leaders Call on Airlines to Prevent Racial and Religious Discrimination on Flights

Jun 6, 2016 Issues: Civil Rights

Washington, DC – Today, leaders of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) sent a letter to Airlines for America President Nicholas Calio calling for clearer guidance on racial profiling. The letter comes after a series of recent incidents on airlines where perceived or actual Muslim and Arab Americans were suspected of terrorism or asked to deplane without concrete evidence. CAPAC Leaders released the following statements:

Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), CAPAC Chair:

“We have been warning about the costs of xenophobic and racist rhetoric in our political conversations. And now, as many continue to preach suspicion of Muslims, we are increasingly seeing the effects. In just the past year alone, there have been at least eight reported cases of alleged discrimination targeting airlines passengers based on their perceived race or religion. Flying while Muslim is not a crime and our airlines industry should not act as though it is. I look forward to hearing back and working with Airlines for America to understand what procedures are in place to evaluate current threats and to ensure that no passenger is the unfair target of racial or religious profiling. As Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, I will continue to fight for policies that keep our skies safe and our passengers welcome.”

Congressman Mike Honda (CA-17), CAPAC Chair Emeritus:

“Since the Paris and San Bernardino terror attacks, stories about passengers who are removed from flights for speaking Arabic, being perceived to be Muslim or Arab, or most recently, simply doing math, have become all too common. Often, these passengers are removed solely based on a flight attendant or a passenger’s complaint to the pilot that they feel “uncomfortable” or unsafe. I am proud to join Chairwoman Judy Chu in calling upon our nation’s major airlines to prevent future incidents of discrimination and to communicate specific plans to do so. As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, I have also fought for language directing the Federal Aviation Administration to collect data on these incidents to have a better understanding of the extent of this problem and ensure greater accountability. Individuals deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, not singled out simply for their appearance.”


The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) is comprised of Members of Congress of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and Members who have a strong dedication to promoting the well-being of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Currently chaired by Congresswoman Judy Chu, CAPAC has been addressing the needs of the AAPI community in all areas of American life since it was founded in 1994.