Melania Trump makes unannounced visit to Texas border amid crisis over separated families

Melania Trump makes unannounced visit to Texas border amid crisis over separated families
First lady Melania Trump visit facilities that house and care for children taken from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border on June 21. Copyright NBC News
Copyright NBC News
By Jane C. Timm with NBC News Politics
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The Trump administration has still not made clear how they intend to reunite the families already separated.


First lady Melania Trump arrived in McAllen, Texas on Thursday to visit the border area amid the administration's crisis over the separation of families, her office said.

She will 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," said a statement from her office, adding the first lady wanted to "hear more on how the administration can build upon the already existing efforts to reunite children with their families."

Her visit comes as the Trump administration tries to spin the family separation crisis in their favor. Trump has insisted his administration did not start the practice, and claimed that only Congress could resolve it. However, after the separation of children from parents and legal guardians who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally earned widespread and bipartisan condemnation, Trump issued an executive order halting his administration's practice.

The president cited his wife and daughter in his decision to end the practice he'd begun months prior.

"Ivanka feels very strongly. My wife feels very strongly about it. I feel very strongly about it. I think anybody with a heart would feel very strongly about it. We don't like to see families separated. At the same time, we don't want people coming into our country illegally. This takes care of the problem," he said. He did not mention that an executive order wasn't needed to end the practice, as the Department of Justice had begun such a policy in April without one.

The first lady first waded into the controversy on Sunday, releasing a rare statement hours before former first lady Laura Bush weighed in on the issue too.

"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," according to a statement from her spokeswoman. "She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart."

While Trump told a Wednesday campaign crowd that he'd fixed the family separation issue, his administration has not revealed a plan to reunite at least 1995 children U.S. officials separated from their families. An executive order yesterday suggested they intend to detain whole families together, however.

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