Melania Trump made a second trip to the U.S.-Mexico border Thursday, in what she said was a show of support for U.S. officials and the migrant families being held there.
The first lady arrived in Tucson, where she held a roundtable discussion with officials from Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the U.S. Marshals Service and a local rancher. She toured a facility where immigrants crossing the border illegally are held for short periods of time and processed, and took a private tour of an intelligence center.
“I’m here to support you,” Trump told the officials during the roundtable talk, offering her help on “behalf of children and the families.”
Officials told her that each day they apprehend about 150 migrants attempting to cross the Tucson sector of the border. “Serious enforcement of immigration law is necessary,” Rodolfo Karisch, the chief patrol agent, told the first lady. “And there has to be consequences for violations of law, because if you don’t have consequences, then … you promote additional illegal activity.”
He said that while U.S. officials might have been characterized as “cruel” or “heartless,” he hoped to show her “the amount of care that goes in to the families, the children of the people we encounter here.”
The first lady asked how many unaccompanied children had crossed the border and was told that 1,100 minors without parents had entered Arizona illegally since Oct. 1.
After the discussion with the officials, Trump was led on a tour of the short-term holding and processing facility, where cells were marked with designations including “Males,” “Juveniles,” “Families,” as well as signs denoting whether they were “Processed” or “Unprocessed.”
“Hi! How are you?” Trump asked a little boy who was being kept, along with his mother, in a cell marked “Family Unit 8.”
The first lady’s spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said she was there to observe and to advocate “for quality care for children. She wants to learn from the people on the front lines at the border.”
Last week Melania Trump made a trip to McAllen, Tex., where she visited a shelter for immigrant children as her husband’s “zero-tolerance” policy of separating families roiled the country.
President Trump later issued an executive order reversing that policy, but many families have not been reunited.
This time, the first lady’s visit will likely be less controversial. She sported a black shirt and white pants, with no sign of the jacket she wore to and from the last visit — an olive-green coat with the phrase “I really don’t care, do u?” emblazoned on the back.