People Are Donating Millions Of Frequent Flyer Miles To Reunite Immigrant Families

by Thea Glassman
Image via John Moore/Getty Images

Strangers are donating their frequent flyer miles to help immigrant families

Sometimes the world can be a really, really nice place. After one woman tweeted that she donated her frequent flyer miles to help an immigrant family, people quickly jumped on-board. There have now been millions of miles donated by strangers across the country, because humanity does still exist.

It all started with Beth Wilensky’s tweet. Wilensky, a professor at University of Michigan, took to Twitter to share how she helped an immigrant family who had been separated during Trump’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy.

“My husband travels a lot,” she wrote. “Downside: he’s gone a lot. Upside: frequent flyer miles. We just used some to fly a 3-yr-old and his dad, who had been separated at the border, from Michigan (where the son had been taken) to their extended family. DM me if you have miles to donate.”

Wilensky’s message quickly started to spread. Within a few days, her tweet had been retweeted more than 30,000 times and comments poured in from people who wanted to help.

Wilensky directed them to Miles 4 Migrants, a nonprofit that uses donated frequent flyer miles to book flights for refugees who are moving to their new homes and immigrants who have been separated from their families. Over the past few days, close to 8 million (!) miles have been donated to the charity.

Miles 4 Migrants ended up partnering with Wilensky’s other recommended charity, Michigan Support Circle, which provides clothes, rides, housing, and other important essentials to immigrants after they’ve been released from detention centers. Now, the two groups are putting in overtime hours to use all their new donations and help as many families as possible.

“We are working as fast as we possibly can to finalize our new partnerships, expand our existing partnerships, and use all of the new miles donations to reunite more families,” Miles 4 Migrants wrote in a statement on their website. “Please hang with us as we scale up our operations. We are as excited to use your pledged miles as you are to have us use them!”

Since Wilensky’s tweet went viral, Buzzfeed News reported that the non-profit has been able to arrange flights for 151 people from 57 families. They expect to help out 390 more immigrants with air transportation.

The attention and flood of donations came as a bit of a shock to Miles 4 Migrants’ co-founder Nick Ruiz, but he couldn’t be happier. “We’re really encouraged people want to work with us,” he told Buzzfeed News. “Together we can make this happen.”