Sunday 22 July 2018

Melania Trump criticised for wearing jacket with 'I really don't care' on back ahead of visiting immigrant children

U.S. first lady Melania Trump visits the Lutheran Social Services of the South
U.S. first lady Melania Trump visits the Lutheran Social Services of the South "Upbring New Hope Children's Center" as she visits the U.S.-Mexico border area in McAllen Texas, U.S., June 21, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Emily Shugerman

First Lady Melania Trump has come under fire for a statement-making jacket she wore while travelling to visit migrant children held in a detention shelter on the US-Mexico border.

The army-green jacket was adorned with bold, white letters on the back, reading: “I REALLY DON'T CARE, DO U?"

US first lady Melania Trump wearing the jacket emblazoned with 'I really don't care, do u?' (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
US first lady Melania Trump wearing the jacket emblazoned with 'I really don't care, do u?' (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Ms Trump donned the jacket while boarding a plane bound for McAllen, Texas, where she visited a shelter for immigrant children – some of whom were separated from their parents under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy. The first lady wore a different pale yellow jacket when when she disembarked.

The "zero tolerance" policy involves all adults who cross the border illegally being sent for prosecution, meaning children are taken into the care of the government while cases are processed.

Photos of the jacket - from fast fashion retailer Zara - circulated quickly online, stirring outrage over what some felt was an insensitive choice.

"Hey @FLOTUS we really DO care about children being torn away from their families," tweeted Lauren Hogg, a gun control activist and survivor of the Parkland school shooting. "This is exceptionally insensitive and appalling even for you."

Ms Trump’s spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, responded with a statement to reporters saying: "It's a jacket. There was no hidden message."

“After today's important visit to Texas, I hope the media isn't going to choose to focus on her wardrobe," Ms Grisham said.

Melania Trump smiles after signing American flag artwork while visiting the Upbring New Hope Children Center run by the Lutheran Social Services of the South in McAllen, Texas, (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Melania Trump smiles after signing American flag artwork while visiting the Upbring New Hope Children Center run by the Lutheran Social Services of the South in McAllen, Texas, (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

She later added via Twitter: “Today’s visit w the children in Texas impacted @FLOTUS greatly. If media would spend their time & energy on her actions & efforts to help kids - rather than speculate & focus on her wardrobe - we could get so much accomplished on behalf of children. #SheCares #ItsJustAJacket”

Ms Trump’s border visit came one day after her husband bowed to public pressure and signed an executive order to end family separations at the border. More than 2,300 children were separated from their families between mid-April and early June.

As the first lady was visiting Texas, Mr Trump said at a cabinet meeting that he was directing federal agencies to begin reuniting children and parents separated at the US-Mexico border, a first step to implementing his executive order.

Ms Grisham told reporters that Ms Trump had planned the trip before her husband signed the executive order, saying: “She wanted to see everything for herself."

“She supports family reunification,” Ms Grisham added. “She thinks that it’s important that children stay with their families.”

Under Mr Trump’s executive order, immigrant families will now be housed together in detention centres while individual family members face charges. Activists have protested this response, saying it will only result in the indeterminate detention of more children.

Melania Trump listens during a roundtable meeting at the Lutheran Social Services of the South
Melania Trump listens during a roundtable meeting at the Lutheran Social Services of the South "Upbring New Hope Children's Center" near the U.S.-Mexico border in McAllen Texas REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Ms Trump visited the Upbring New Hope Children’s Shelter on Thursday, which is home to some 55 migrant children placed in the care of Health and Human Services.

Most of the children came from Guatemala, according to a senior administration official, and were between the ages of 12 and 17. Six of the children were separated from their families upon reaching the border, while the rest arrived unaccompanied.

The first lady spent approximately 75 minutes at the shelter, according to pool reports. She also met with shelter employees and government officials, who she praised for doing  "heroic work”.

“I'm here to learn about your facility,” she said. “I also like to ask you how I can help to be sure these children reunite with their families as quickly as possible."

Health and Human Services has yet to release any details on how they will reunite the 2,300 children separated from their families before Wednesday’s executive order.

Independent News Service

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