First Lady Melania Trump "hates" to see families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border and hopes "both sides of the aisle" can reform the nation's immigration laws, according to a statement from her office.
Stephanie Grisham, a spokeswoman for the first lady, said Sunday: "She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart." She said the first lady hopes both sides "can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform."
Though the statement suggested that the matter was an issue for Congress, Democratic lawmakers and others have pointed out that no law mandates the separation of children and parents at the border. A new Trump administration policy, which went into effect in May, sought to maximize criminal prosecutions of people caught trying to enter the U.S. illegally. More adults were being jailed as a result, which led to their children being separated from them.
A former first lady, Laura Bush, joined the debate, calling the separation policy "cruel" and "immoral" and said "it breaks my heart." In a guest column for the Washington Post, she compared the separation of the children to the internment camps for Japanese Americans in World War II.
For both, it was an unusual entry into a fierce political debate.
Melania Trump’s statement didn't refer specifically to the Trump administration's "no tolerance" policy, which was leading to a sharp increase in children being separated from their families. Government statistics indicate that nearly 2,000 children were separated from their families over a six-week period in April and May. The first lady’s spokeswoman issued the statement after several days of images of crying children appearing on television and online.