DALLAS — A North Texas sky diving company’s rules barring customers who are in the country illegally are being called “racist” in a flood of social media posts, but defended by the business owner.

Skydive Tandem Greenville, also known as Dallas Skydive Lodge, states on its website: “If you are in this country illegally, please go home and sky-dive in your own country. We don’t want any money you obtained in the USA illegally.”

Angelica Escobedo, who lives in Irving, shared a screenshot of the rules because she found them discriminatory. Her post had more than 100 shares.

“They assume ‘if you don’t speak English, you are here illegally’ and that is not OK. If we don’t stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves, then who are we as a society or as a city?” she said.

That prompted nearly 100 negative reviews on the company’s Facebook page in the last 24 hours. On Thursday, the company owner doubled down by defending his rules requiring legal and English-speaking customers.

Hank Schraeder said in an interview with The Dallas Morning News that he is not racially profiling customers. He said he strongly believes that people in the U.S. illegally should be returned to their country of origin or “wait in line” to get citizenship, like his great-great grandmother did when she came from Germany.

“There is no racial profiling on my website or anyplace else. This has nothing to do with what country you came from or what race you are. I don’t care if you came from the Netherlands, if you’re here illegally then you should go home,” he said.

Schraeder said the requirement for reading and speaking English is for safety when providing sky diving instructions. The site also says it’s needed for filling out legal paperwork.

One reviewer wrote: “If I could give zero stars I would. Please don’t give your money to racists.”

Schraeder shrugged off the social media outcry and said he doesn’t get most of his business from Facebook. He declined to talk about the customer source for his business, which is located about 40 miles east of Dallas.

“The illegal lovers will attack that method also,” he said.

The company also lists other sky diving requirements for customers, such as proper identification and good health.

“You must weigh 220 pounds or less. Yes, we weigh you,” the company’s rules say.

After Facebook users shared the company’s rules, dozens went to its page to leave negative reviews, some sarcastic, others expressing disappointment. One review was written in Spanish.

“My chute was packed by guys in pointy white hoods. Not customer friendly,” one person wrote.

A photo of Schraeder circulated on multiple social media sites showing him holding a sign that reads “Trump Wetback Round-up 2016,” which Schraeder said he paid to have made. He said he has been pleased with President Donald Trump’s approach to immigration and wants the border wall built.

It is unclear how many of the people posting comments had used the company’s services. Commenters also took to Yelp and Google reviews to share their complaints, taking the company below a two-star rating.


©2018 The Dallas Morning News

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PHOTO (for help with images, contact 312-222-4194): IMMIGRATION-SKY-DIVING-BAN

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