First lady Melania Trump made a surprise visit to McAllen, Texas, Thursday to witness first-hand the immigration crisis that has sparked national outrage.
“She wants to see what’s real,” Trump’s spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, told CNN. “She wanted to see as close to what she had been seeing on TV. She wants to see a realistic view of what’s happening.”
The Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy ensured that anyone caught crossing the border illegally into the United States would face immediate prosecution. This led to thousands of children being separated from their parents and taken into child protective services.
“First Lady Melania Trump has arrived in Texas to take part in briefings and tours at a nonprofit social services center for children who have entered the United States illegally and a customs and border patrol processing center,” read a statement posted on the White House website Thursday. “Her goals are to thank law enforcement and social services providers for their hard work, lend support and hear more on how the administration can build upon the already existing efforts to reunite children with their families.”
Yesterday, President Trump signed an executive order halting the separation of families at the border. Despite this display of compassion, Trump ensured that his administration would stay “very strong on the border.”
“At the same time, we have compassion,” he added. “We want to keep families together. It’s very important.”
CNN reported that the first lady had been “working behind the scenes” to convince her husband to take action on the issue this week.
“My wife feels very strongly about it,” the president said Wednesday afternoon, shortly after signing the order. “I think anybody with a heart will feel strongly about it — we don’t like to see families being separated.”
Over the weekend, FLOTUS made clear her grief at the current immigration situation:
“Mrs. Trump hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform,” Grisham said Sunday. “She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart.”
In the spontaneous visit, Melania was seen visiting a child detention center, where she thanked those who have been caring for children who have been separated from their families.
“We all know they are here without their families, and I want to thank you for your hard work, your compassion and your kindness your giving them in these difficult times,” she said.