The First Lady is the first member of the Trump administration to travel to the U.S.-Mexico border. The visit was unannounced, hastily planned, and comes after her husband, President Donald Trump, under pressure from members of his own party, signed an executive order halting his administration’s “zero tolerance” family separations policy.
“It’s about keeping families together while ensuring we have a powerful border,” Trump said of the order. He added: “I didn’t like the sight of families being separated.”
The president’s daughter, Ivanka, later thanked him profusely on Twitter, a move which opened her up to a volley of criticism from many who pointed out that she was congratulating her father for “taking critical action” on a policy he could have halted with a simple phone call, not to mention the fact that it was a crisis entirely of his own making.
Earlier this week, President Trump admitted that his administration’s policy of separating families was a negotiating tool to get Democrats to cave to his demands (which include tougher border security as well as a wall erected along the nation’s southern border).
The new executive order is unlikely to bring a definitive end to what activists say amounts to a humanitarian crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border, and the president indicated even before he signed the order that his administration maintains a hardline stance on immigration, even against those who are seeking asylum.
“We’re going to keep families together but we still have to maintain toughness or our country will be overrun by people, by crime, by all of the things that we don’t stand for and that we don’t want,” Trump said during a brief announcement at the White House.
Despite signing an order to end the “zero tolerance” policy, the president continued to use hardline immigration rhetoric while holding a campaign rally in Duluth, Minnesota.
“They’re not sending their finest. We’re sending them the hell back! That’s what we’re doing,” he told nearly 9,000 supporters. “And, by the way, today I signed an executive order. We will keep families together, but the border is going to be just as tough as it has been.”
“So the Democrats want open borders,” Trump continued. “‘Let everybody come in, let them come in from the Middle East, let them come in from all over the place. We don’t care.’ We are not going to let it happen.”