First lady Melania Trump arrived in McAllen, Texas, on Thursday to visit a detention center for undocumented immigrant children.
She initiated the visit on Tuesday — one day before President Donald Trump signed an executive order to stop separating undocumented immigrant parents and their children and instead detain them together — her chief of staff, Stephanie Grisham, told reporters,
“I’m here to learn about your facility, in which I know you house children on a long-term basis,” Melania Trump said at the Upbring New Hope Children’s Shelter. “And I’d also like to ask you how I can help these children to reunite with their families as quickly as possible.”
Speaking to reporters, Grisham echoed those sentiments but emphasized that the first lady believes all immigration to the U.S. should be done legally.
“She supports that the law should be followed,” Grisham said. “I don’t know that [her immigrant status] plays into her thinking, but I can tell you guys that when she came into this country, she did it legally, and she feels that everybody should enter the country legally.”
Trump took a tour of the facility, which holds about 60 kids, ages 5 to 17. The vast majority at this shelter arrived alone, with just six of them separated from their parents.
Reporters covering the controversial administration policy of separating unauthorized immigrant children from their parents said the visit did not give her an accurate look at the crisis unfolding.
Approximately 2,000 immigrant children have been separated from their parents in recent weeks under the new zero tolerance border policy. Doctors who have visited the facilities, some which hold babies and toddlers, say the conditions are extremely troubling and could trigger long-term health consequences.
The centers confiscated any toys and other possessions the children arrived with, and according to American Academy of Pediatrics President Colleen Kraft, adults at the facilities are not allowed to comfort or touch the children.