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This Mexican Man Claims He Was Accused Of Human Trafficking On A United Flight While Traveling With His Daughter

Osvaldo Maciel and his 3-year-old interrogated by officers after a passenger allegedly complained that he didn't look like his daughter.

Posted on April 19, 2017, at 6:32 p.m. ET

Osvaldo Maciel, a Mexican citizen, was flying to New York on a United Airlines flight with his daughter on March 1 when he says he was accused of child trafficking.

A passenger, who according to Maciel reeked of alcohol, accused him of child trafficking after seeing him with his 3-year-old because he believed they did "not look alike," according to an Univisión interview.
Univision

A passenger, who according to Maciel reeked of alcohol, accused him of child trafficking after seeing him with his 3-year-old because he believed they did "not look alike," according to an Univisión interview.

In a Huffington Post column, Maciel's wife Maura Furfey said that "there will always be individuals who make racist remarks." However, after they landed, she claims airport authorities took the passenger's claims seriously.

"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," Furfey wrote. "He and our daughter were escorted out of the plane before anyone else could get off."
Scott Olson / Getty Images

"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," Furfey wrote. "He and our daughter were escorted out of the plane before anyone else could get off."

The officers then interrogated Maciel about his child and where she was born, and then called Furfey to verify the story. Officers told Furfey that they were investigating her husband because of the complaint by the passenger.

She wrote she was shocked that "flight attendants would choose to take such an observation seriously."

"My husband is Mexican. Therefore, he is a target, and in effect, so is our family," she wrote.Maciel and his child were eventually able to leave the airport after an interrogation by officials.
Joshua Lott / AFP / Getty Images

"My husband is Mexican. Therefore, he is a target, and in effect, so is our family," she wrote.

Maciel and his child were eventually able to leave the airport after an interrogation by officials.

Furfey wrote that after she complained to United about the treatment, the family received an apology and a $100 voucher.

"This is useless to us because we won’t ever fly with this particular airline again," she wrote. "Furthermore, it is more important to us that United and other airlines review their procedures."
Facebook: United

"This is useless to us because we won’t ever fly with this particular airline again," she wrote. "Furthermore, it is more important to us that United and other airlines review their procedures."

Of course, the incident sparked outrage on social media, with suggesting that skin color may have played a role in how officials responded.

"(...) In my opinion, it happened because he is Mexican, and it happened because his daughter is lighter-skinned than he is. I hope that the accusing woman, and those involved, have learned a lesson and will not judge by skin color in the future."
Facebook

"(...) In my opinion, it happened because he is Mexican, and it happened because his daughter is lighter-skinned than he is. I hope that the accusing woman, and those involved, have learned a lesson and will not judge by skin color in the future."

Some people even shared their same experiences of discrimination.

"I know exactly what she went through... My dad's Mexican my mom is German.. Trust me, it doesn't get any easier as you get older. My mom would get an affidavit every time I went to Mexico; with the dates I would leave and come back. We were the cause of a 2 hour delay because they were trying to keep me. My dad had to show them my birth certificate, the affidavit and our itinerary. Along with my ID..."
Facebook

"I know exactly what she went through... My dad's Mexican my mom is German.. Trust me, it doesn't get any easier as you get older. My mom would get an affidavit every time I went to Mexico; with the dates I would leave and come back. We were the cause of a 2 hour delay because they were trying to keep me. My dad had to show them my birth certificate, the affidavit and our itinerary. Along with my ID..."

Others doubted the same response would have occurred had a white person had been involved.

"(...) I would have probably ended up in jail if I were him because I wouldn't have taken this BS. Of course, I have white privilege, so I probably wouldn't have been arrested (...)"
Facebook

"(...) I would have probably ended up in jail if I were him because I wouldn't have taken this BS. Of course, I have white privilege, so I probably wouldn't have been arrested (...)"

In a statement, United Airlines apologized to the Maciel family for the incident.

Univisión

"It should be clarified that the passenger was not removed from the flight," the airline added.

"(...) This situation causes us great concern. We have apologized to the Maciel family and will continue to review the case to understand what happened during the flight", said spokesperson for United Airlines to BuzzFeed Mexico.
Joshua Lott / AFP / Getty Images

"(...) This situation causes us great concern. We have apologized to the Maciel family and will continue to review the case to understand what happened during the flight", said spokesperson for United Airlines to BuzzFeed Mexico.

The latest complaint came just days after United forcibly removed a passenger and a scorpion allegedly fell from the ceiling during a flight.

@United overbook #flight3411 and decided to force random passengers off the plane. Here's how they did it:

This post was translated from Spanish.

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