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tv   Nightline  ABC  October 2, 2021 12:37am-1:06am PDT

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♪ this is "nightline." >> tonight, the unfriendly skies. >> you gave me one [ bleep ] warning! >> angry, violent passengers. >> he said, "n" word, i don't have to listen to a damn thing you say. >> crews on the defensive. >> flight attendants are putting their uniform thinking, is this the day i get punched in the face? >> how they are fighting back. plus the intimate documentary "asylum." the families torn apart at the border. 1,000 still have not been reunited. and "jolene." lil nas' take on an old classic with dolly's blessing.
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evacuations, security threats. but their most imminent danger is air rage. now learning skills to help them deal with this new work hazard. here's abc's transportation correspondent gio benitez. >> don't you dare! >> reporter: in the formerly friendly skies, scenes like this are becoming all too common. >> i need everyone to take their seats right now! >> reporter: flight attendants on the front line. and recently a couple told to get off a plane in ft. lauderdale because of a mask issue. >> you give me one [ bleep ] warning, hold it down, turn around, turn around! face everybody, right? >> reporter: nearly 4,500 air rage incidents reported so far this year, the vast majority, more than 3,200, for refusing to wear a mask. >> if we continue at this rate, there may be more incidents in 2021 than in the entire history of aviation. >> reporter: the faa issuing a whopping $1 million in proposed fines so far this year for
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unruly passengers under its zero-tolerance policy. 85% of flight attendants claiming they've dealt with an unruly passenger. a staggering 1 in 5 saying they've been subjected to a physical incident. now more than ever, tension between passengers and flight crews close to a boiling point. from new pandemic rules for travelers, to canceled and delayed flights, to anger over masks, people are on edge. >> i'm teddy andrews. i am an american airlines flight attendant. i've been flying with american for ten years, and i started in the aviation industry in 1981. >> have you ever seen in those 40 years anything like what's going on right now? >> absolutely never, never. never seen anything like it. >> reporter: andrews testified before congress about his own personal experience with a bridge rent passenger earlier this year. >> he said, ""n" word, i don't have to listen to a damn thing you say, this is a free country." i was completely taken aback. i didn't know what to say.
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but he continued. "you heard me, "n" word boy." >> so this didn'ttaticonfrontat happening what were you thinking? >> this could either go right, could either go left. what can i do to keep it calm to try to make sure it doesn't escalate where we don't want it to go, 35,000 feet in the air, no police, no air marshal. just four flight attendants and this passenger. >> reporter: it's disturbing stories like these that inspired andrews and a group of fellow airline workers to ask for help from the federal government. >> we cannot combat air rage without coordination at the federal level. passengers need clear expectations and strong consequences for their behavior. >> reporter: this increasingly volatile situation prompting a response from the highest office. >> show some respect. the anger you see on television toward flight attendants and others doing their job is wrong. it's ugly.
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>> what was your reaction to that? >> i nearly cried. this is the commander in chief standing up for something that was just right to do. >> reporter: some even calling on the department of justice to prosecute cases of air rage. >> this behavior is from a small percentage of the traveling public, but it is disgusting, it is unacceptable, and it is a danger to fellow passengers, to crew, and the entire u.s. aviation system. >> reporter: just weeks ago, two federal felony charges, including one for assault, were filed against this southwest passenger in san diego after her punches caused the flight attendant to lose two of her teeth and required stitches for a cut under her eye. the passenger's attorney telling "the washington post" they would go forward with the case and see what happens, declining to comment further. >> it's not the aviation industry that we know. it's not the magic of flight
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that we know and love and have fallen in love with and loved our careers. flight attendants are putting their uniform on thinking, is this the day i get punched in the face? increased tensions, some flight attendants are preparing for the worst, turning to self-defense classes offered by the tsa and taught by air marshals. the classes used to occur once a quarter with only eight or nine students. now they're in high demand. now you're basically doing three or four times the number of classes with double the amount of people in it? >> yes. yes, exactly. >> that's a lot. >> it's a lot. the assaults and the disruptions on the aircraft are higher now than they have been in recent memory. >> reporter: during the four-hour course, the marshals teach flight attendants various de-escalation techniques and how to defend themselves when passengers become violent, like this. >> bring the arm down. turn. break it way from the thumb. >> reporter: for flight attendant stacia gardner, it's a
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refresher course with a new mindset. >> when you took the class the first time years ago, you probably thought, i probably won't have to use a lot of this. >> yeah, now i'm like, wait a minute, i might have to use this tomorrow. i hope i don't. but you might have to. >> having those tools to be able to defend yourself, to set yourself, to understand how to do that in our aircraft environment, this training is invaluable for us to be able to defend ourselves and also to keep our skies safe. >> i go here, he goes down. >> reporter: united airlines ceo scott kirby recently telling "the atlantic" that the airli airlines' de-escalation technique has had good results. >> we tell our flight attendants, you're not supposed to be the police in the sky, de-escalate if they can. if they won't put the mask on, all the airplanes have the cards, give the customer the card and say, if you don't put the mask on, you're going to be banned from flying united, then it's over. don't fight with them. >> that gets everybody to go,
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oh -- >> not everybody. we've had to ban 700 customers. but it largely works. >> reporter: while stiincidents have tapered off, it's 670% higher than 2015. >> it's still way too much to be anywhere near a level of acceptable, and we have to keep going at this. but at least for the first time we're starting to see that we're headed in the right direction. >> when i hear you talk about this, i wonder, do you still love your job? >> i absolutely love what i'm doing. i can't tell you how many family members i've talked to, and they've shared their life stories or they've shared how they've saved for years to take this family vacation. it still brings me joy. despite everything that we see now. >> the great irony here is that you are literally there for the safety of passengers. and here you are in these situations. >> that is ironic, right? so most people think that we're just waiters or waitresses in the air, we pour cokes, we hand
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out snacks. but our primary role as flight attendants is to make sure the plane takes off safely and it lands safely. that's what we do. >> our thanks to gio. up next, the documentary following the desperate families trying to find each other after being separated at the border. monday on "nightline," stephanie grisham. she was right there in the trump white house, close to melania. what does she want you to know now?
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some of the trump-era policies at the border have ended, but the toll taken on families, many of them still separated, continues. an abc news documentary follows families caught up in the crisis. >> reporter: a father putting on a brave face for his his toddler son. angel ramos, barely hiding his fear of being deported to his native honduras where he says they face threated on their lives. another father, elmore gomez, detained after illegally entering the u.s. to search for his daughter, marisol. the two were separated under the
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trump administration zero-tolerance policy before he was deported without her. these vulnerable moments are featured in an abc news documentary "asylum," chronicling the journeys of two families -- their dreams, prayers, and realities unfolding before the camera. >> we are a nation of immigrants, but we are also a nation of laws. it is wrong to permit the kind of abuse of our immigration laws we have seen in recent years, and we must do more to stop it. >> reporter: immigration at the southern border has long been a hot-button issue. >> we're modernizing the southern border of the united states so we can assure the american people we're doing our job of securing the border.
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>> i want to make something clear. fixing our broken immigration system is one more big thing that we have to do and that we will do. >> reporter: and the latest, president biden coming under fire for the treatment of asylum seekers from haiti. >> you said on the campaign trail that you were going to restore the moral standing of the u.s., that you were going to immediately end trump's assault on the dignity of immigrant communities. given what we saw at the border this week, have you failed in that promise? >> it was horrible what you see what you saw. to see people treated like they did -- horses nearly running them over, people being strapped? it's outrageous. >> reporter: that treatment, immigration advocates say, was an echo of the previous administration, which ignited outrage by separating parents from their children at the border. >> their tears have sparked a national outcry. >> in cities and towns from coast to coast in every state, urging president trump to reunite the families. >> the trump administration
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today holding firm on its zero-tolerance immigration policy. >> reporter: the film "asylum" follows elmer's long search for his daughter, marisol. >> are you on the mexican side? i think it will be if that five, yeah. i'm working mostly on family reunificati reunification, so i'm working with parents who were deported without their children. the parents, they were one step closer to being with their kids,
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but they would have to suffer the horrors of immigration detention. >> they're saying they don't have capacity to process these families. they all have a legal right to ask to be considered for asylum in the united states. they've all suffered immeasurable harm. >> reporter: the former policemen had fled honduras because of threats on his life after investigating the murder of his father. but when he entered the u.s., he was detained, this time separated from his wife.
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>> reporter: the filmmaking team continue documenting these families for more than a year, following the unpredictable twists and turns their roads took. like when elmer was finally
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released after 45 days behind bars.
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>> reporter: we spoke to elmer this evening. it's been a year and a half since he reunited with marisol. elmer may have been one of the lucky ones. the aclu estimates more than 1,000 families remain separated to this day. a community often talked about but rarely seen. the film revealing that even after the harrowing roads that led them to the country of their dreams, asylum is often elusive. the abc news documentary
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"asylum" is streaming now on hulu. up next -- ♪ jolene jolene jolene jolene ♪ >> that's not dolly parton. lil nas x covers the classic "jolene." what the leading lady of country had to say about it. ♪ jolene jolene jolene jolene please don't take him just because you can ♪ the classic . we meet the hero, the all-new nissan frontier. hero faces seemingly impossible challenge. ♪ tension builds... ♪ the plot twist. ♪ the hero prevails. in hollywood, this would be the end. but our here, we are just getting started. introducing the all-new nissan frontier. liz, you nerd, cough if you're in here!
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♪ and finally tonight, an early dolly parton classic with a modern twist. ♪ jolene jolene jolene jolene ♪ >> the song parton wrote and recorded in 1973. she claims it's her most cove ed song. joets jolene ♪ >> the latest version from lil nas x. what does the queen of country think? posting on instagram, i had to find it and listen to it immediately, and it's really, really good. of course, i love him anyway.
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can you imagine those two teaming up to record a song? that's "nightline" for this evening. catch our full episodes on ewe hu hulu. see you right back here same time next week. thanks for the company, america. have a good and safe weekend. ♪ i see trees of green ♪ ♪ red roses too ♪ ♪ i see them bloom for me and you ♪ (music) so i to mylf ♪ oh what a wonderful world ♪


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