First lady Melania Trump made a surprise visit to a South Texas facility in McAllen, Texas, where dozens of immigrant children are being housed.
Trump wanted to see the conditions for herself, according to the first lady’s spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham.
“She’s seen the images. She’s heard the recordings,” Grisham said during a press briefing en route to McAllen, according to The Dallas Morning News. “The images struck her, as a mother, as a human being.”
What are the details?
The first lady’s visit came one day after her husband, President Donald Trump, signed an executive order to stop the practice of separating families who are caught crossing the border illegally.
“This was 100 percent her idea. She absolutely wanted to come,” Grisham told reporters, adding that there were no second thoughts about the trip that was planned within 48 hours and kept secret until she arrived in McAllen.
Trump planned to go with or without the executive order.
“She wants to see what’s happening for herself and she wants to lend her support, executive order or not. The executive order certainly is helping pave the way a little bit, but there’s still a lot to be done,” Grisham said, adding that the president supported the first lady’s decision.
The first lady will report her findings to her husband.
“As with many topics, she will continue to give her husband her opinions,” Grisham said.
Trump originally planned to visit two facilities, however, because of severe flooding, a trip to the Ursula Border Patrol Processing Center was canceled, the Morning News reported.
What did she find out?
Trump toured the Upbring New Hope Children’s Center, which is part of Lutheran Social Services of the South and overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services. The facility opened in 2014 and currently houses 55 children (27 boys and 28 girls), mostly from Guatemala, ranging in age from 12 to 17, according to the Morning News.
She met with Upbring CEO Dr. Kirk Senske and participated in a roundtable with social workers, doctors, medical staff, and others.
“I want to thank you for your hard work, your compassion, and your kindness,” the first lady told those at the roundtable meeting, CNN reported.
“I’m here to learn about your facility. … I’d also like to ask you how I can help to be sure these children reunite with their families as quickly as possible,” she said, according to the Morning News.
Trump asked questions regarding how often the kids speak with their families, how long they stay, and their condition upon arrival. She learned that the children speak with their families twice a week.
They often arrive feeling distraught, but “when they see the environment they start relaxing,” she was told by staff. The children receive showers, clothing, food, and other basic needs upon arrival. Most children stay at Upbring for about 42 to 45 days, Trump was told.
They also receive medical, dental, vision, and psychological care, according to an administration official, who described the facility as a “safe and happy environment,” CNN reported.
Did she visit the children?
Trump visited dozens of kids in three classrooms at the facility. She spoke to them individually and asked where they were from and how long they had been there.
When she arrived, three kids had just left, and were reunited with their family.
“Oh, that’s great. That’s three of them, they already reunited,” she said.
When she left the room, she said, “Be kind and nice to other, OK? Nice to meet you.”
Social media has been in an uproar after Trump was spotted wearing a green jacket that had white lettering on the back that read, “I really don’t care. Do U?”
She wore the jacket as she boarded her plane.
But she had changed jackets by the time the plane landed in Texas.
Grisham responded on Twitter to the backlash.
“Today’s visit w the children in Texas impacted @flotus greatly. If media would spend their time & energy on her actions & efforts to help kids – rather than speculate & focus on her wardrobe – we could get so much accomplished on behalf of children. #SheCares #ItsJustAJacket,” Grisham tweeted.
Today’s visit w the children in Texas impacted @flotus greatly. If media would spend their time & energy on her actions & efforts to help kids – rather than speculate & focus on her wardrobe – we could get so much accomplished on behalf of children. #SheCares #ItsJustAJacket
— Stephanie Grisham (@StephGrisham45) June 21, 2018