Monday 17 June 2019

Melania in call for mercy on children at US border

US First Lady Melania Trump. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
US First Lady Melania Trump. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Nick Allen

Melania Trump appeared to criticise her husband's administration for separating illegal immigrant families at the Mexico border as she called on the United States to show "heart".

More than 2,000 children have been removed from their parents over the past six weeks since Jeff Sessions, the US attorney general, introduced a 'zero-tolerance' approach.

Under the policy, adults are being detained and prosecuted, with their children sent to separate shelters.

Previously, many illegal immigrants had been allowed to remain at liberty while they awaited proceedings.

A spokeswoman for the US first lady said: "Mrs Trump hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides [in Congress] can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform.

"She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws but also a country that governs with heart."

It was a rare intervention from Ms Trump, who immigrated legally to the US from her native Slovenia and campaigns on behalf of children.

But who Ms Trump blamed for the situation was unclear. It is also possible that she was backing her husband's claim that the Democrats were responsible.


The comment came amid a growing uproar over the detention of minors, including hundreds being held at a former Walmart superstore in Texas.

Mr Trump has blamed the situation on Democrats, accusing them of pursuing a "horrible and cruel legislative agenda" and said he "hates to see separation of parents and children".

Yesterday, Kellyanne Conway, counsellor to the president, further distanced the White House from responsibility.

Ms Conway said: "As a mother, as a Catholic, as somebody who's got a conscience, I will tell you that nobody likes this policy."

However, Steve Bannon, Mr Trump's former chief strategist, defended the separation of families at the border.

He said: "We ran on a policy, very simply, stop mass illegal immigration and limit legal immigration."

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