Melania Sent To Border For Charm Offensive As Trump Promises To Reunite Separated Families

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.”

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.

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.”

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.

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. 

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