First lady visits migrant children at Texas detention center


McALLEN, Texas (AP) — Melania Trump made an unannounced visit to a Texas facility today to get a firsthand look at some of the migrant children sent there by the U.S. government after their families entered the country illegally.

The first lady's stop at Upbring New Hope Children's Center in McAllen came the morning after President Donald Trump signed an executive order halting the practice of separating these families.

She may also visit a second facility later in the day where children housed in cages were seen by The Associated Press last week. Trump had come under pressure to stop the practice, including from GOP allies and the first lady herself, after a public outcry sparked by widespread images of children held in fence-like structures.

The trip was intended to lend support to those children who remain separated from their parents, said Stephanie Grisham, the first lady's spokeswoman.

"She wanted to see everything for herself," Grisham said.

The president had insisted incorrectly that his administration had no choice but to separate families apprehended at the border because children cannot go to jail with adults who are being criminally prosecuted for crossing the border illegally. Trump had said only Congress could fix the problem and he specifically pointed a finger at Democrats.

He reversed course Wednesday by signing the order ending separations and keeping families together when they are in custody, at least for the next few weeks. The administration's "zero-tolerance" policy of criminally prosecuting illegal border-crossers, which has led to the removal of some 2,300 children from their parents since May, remains.

Accompanied by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Mrs. Trump met with the executive director of the facility and other staff in a makeshift conference room where she was told the staff treated the 58 children housed there as if they were their own.

The first lady asked the children be reunited with their families "as quickly as possible."

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