The majority of the 55 children staying at the New Hope Children’s Center facility in McAllen, Texas, were unaccompanied when they crossed the border, according to a pool report; six had been separated from their parents. They were mostly Guatemalan, ranging in age from 12 to 17.
The first lady’s comments were noted in a White House pool report.
Prior to her visit, Trump was spotted boarding the plane wearing a jacket that read, “I REALLY DON’T CARE, DO U?” She changed into a neutral outfit by landing time.
During her visit, she spoke alternately in English and through an interpreter, asking individual children in three classrooms where they were from. When an employee at the facility told her the average length of stay is currently 42 to 45 days, she responded, “That’s great.”
“Be kind and nice to other, OK?” she told kids in one classroom. “Nice to meet you.”
CNN reported Wednesday that the first lady had worked behind the scenes to encourage President Donald Trump to stop the practice of separating migrant children from their families, a policy that faced immense backlash for its cruelty. The president signed an executive order to halt the separations Wednesday afternoon, though the government will continue the practice of aggressively prosecuting undocumented adults while also proposing to detain their children with them.
Publicly, the first lady has not given any indication that her opinion of the policy differs from her husband’s. Her spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said the first lady believes “the law should be followed” on immigration.
“I’m here to learn about your facility, in which I know you house children on a long-term basis,” Trump said during her visit. “And I’d also like to ask you how I can help these children to reunite with their families as quickly as possible.”
One of two Republican immigration bills intended to ameliorate the immigration backlog failed to pass the House on Thursday, and a vote for the second was abruptly rescheduled to Friday.