First Lady Melania Trump made an unannounced visit to a Texas social services center on Thursday amid a crisis over migrant children who have been forcibly separated from their parents as part of the DOJ's "zero-tolerance" enforcement of preexisting laws.
"I'm glad I'm here and I'm looking forward to seeing the children," said the First Lady at a roundtable with doctors and other employees of the Upbring New Hope Children's Center, which is a subsidiary of Lutheran Social Services of the South.
"But first of all, let me begin to recognize each of you and thanking you for all that you do, for your heroic work that you do every day and what you do for those children. We all know they're here without their families, and I want to thank you for your hard work."
Texas border facility employee debunks fake news about minors being unhappy: "It is really a home for the children...as you will see the children and see the smiles on their faces and you'll hear them giggle." pic.twitter.com/9XyUngfpxH— Josh Caplan (@joshdcaplan) June 21, 2018
Children at a facility caring for detained children made Melania a paper American flag - which she signs— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) June 21, 2018
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) pic.twitter.com/PgYq59JOco
Her visit comes one day after President Trump signed an executive order which would end the controversial practice of separating children from parents who cross the border illegally - a longstanding practice under prior administrations - which was supercharged by the Trump administration's new "zero tolerance" enforcement policies.
My Administration is acting swiftly to address the illegal immigration crisis on the Southern Border. Loopholes in our immigration laws all supported by extremist open border Democrats...and that's what they are - they're extremist open border Democrats.... pic.twitter.com/F73I5gu0Q5— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 21, 2018
Trump said Melania "is down now at the border because it really bothered her to be looking at this and to seeing it, as it bothered me, as it bothered everybody at this table."
"@FLOTUS is down now at the border because it really bothered her to be looking at this and to seeing it, as it bothered me, as it bothered everybody at this table."— Fox News (@FoxNews) June 21, 2018
WATCH: President @realDonaldTrump speaks discusses immigration at Cabinet meeting - Part 1. pic.twitter.com/bK1oQlVmAw
To that end, Trump ordered U.S. agencies to reunite separated migrant families on Thursday.
“I’m directing HHS, DHS, DOJ to work together to keep illegal immigrant families together during the immigration process and reunite these previously separated groups,”’ Trump said.
President Trump touts the "very good executive order" he signed to stop the family separations brought on by his own administration's policy and says he's directing federal agencies to reunite families who were previously separated https://t.co/GNDunYBAmg— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) June 21, 2018
Trump issued the order Thursday as he continued to retreat from a policy that has engendered public outrage and that his administration has stumbled trying to defend. First Lady Melania Trump went to the Texas border on Thursday, accompanied by journalists, to visit immigrant children on a trip her staff said she planned herself.
Trump announced the family reunification directive to the departments of Health and Human Services, Homeland Security and Justice during a cabinet meeting. -Bloomberg
Trump began to soften his stance on family separation on Wednesday, ordering Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to keep immigrant families together when they are apprehended and detained.
That said, implementing Trump's directive is going to depend in part on whether Los Angeles U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee will agree to amend a 21-year-old Clinton-era agreement - known as the Flores settlement - which retstricts how long the government can detail undocumented minors to 20 days, even if they're with their parents.
Judge Gee declined to waive the settlement for the Obama administration after a flood of unaccompanied minors from Central America began crossing the southern U.S. border.
Given Thursday's failed House vote on an immigration bill, and the likelihood of Senate Democrats obstructing anything the House sends over, it appears that immigration policy will largely flow from the White House for the forseeable future.