First Lady Melania Trump made a surprise visit on Thursday to the Upbring New Hope Children Center, a Texas facility that detains immigrant youth, including children whom U.S. immigration officials separated from their parents thanks to the policies of Trump’s husband. There, she expressed emotions that resembled empathy with the children’s plight—sort of.
Things got off to a rocky start. For starters, Trump boarded her flight to Texas wearing a green jacket that, according to the Daily Mail, reads: “I really don’t care, do you?”
Actually, it reads, “I REALLY DON’T CARE, DO U?” in all caps. It’s not...the best message to send, is it? (She had removed the jacket by the time she got off the plane.)
We have reached out to the White House for comment about the jacket and will update if we hear back.
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Then, the First Lady started the meeting with outdated information. “I heard you have 58 children here,” she asked right after staff members introduced themselves. A woman replied and said there were actually 55 children at the facility because some of the kids had been released.
“Oh, OK,” said the First Lady. “That’s great.”
Then Trump asked, “those children, how many times they speak to their relatives or families, per week for example?” A facility representative said children could contact family members twice a week but only after staff has “positively identified” and approved who the children can contact.
Trump, who launched a campaign in May on children’s wellbeing, did not ask any follow-up questions on the two-call limit.
Later in the meeting, Trump asked how long the children were being detained at the shelter. She was told the average stay at the facility was 42–45 days.
“That’s great,” Trump said. (Yep.)
The First Lady then went on to ask a question about the physical and mental state that children were in when they arrived at the facility. A clinician at the roundtable said that when the children arrive, “they are very distraught in the sense that they don’t know where they are at.” She went on to say that once the kids “see the environment and they see the other kids and the art they start relaxing, the first 24 hours are crucial for us.”
Trump then said, “I heard that they are very happy and they love to study, they love to go to school.” (All available evidence shows that children at these detention centers are extremely unhappy.)
Towards the end of the meeting, a man at the table named Jose Gonzalez gave the First Lady a dose of reality.
“There are some occasions where some children do not have anybody to go back to,” said Gonzalez, who identified himself as a field specialist supervisor for the Division of Unaccompanied Children Operations. (This is presumably a reference to a division with that name in the Office of Refugee Resettlement.)
Gonzalez went on to say that the children’s “families have been killed, murdered in just different very tragic situations. Hopefully, when you get to speak to a couple of children today, you’ll see there is not hope for them to go back to the country that they are leaving.”
As she left, Trump reportedly said “Good luck” to the children.
Melania...thanks for caring.
Update, 2:49 p.m.: Trump’s spokesperson Stephanie Grisham dismissed the jacket controversy.
Update, 5:29 p.m.: SHE WORE THE JACKET ON HER WAY BACK. IN 80-PLUS DEGREE WEATHER. WHAT!
Update, 5:54 p.m.: Here we go.
I thought there wasn’t a hidden message...