Melania Trump makes surprise visit to Texas to tour border facilities

By Sara Shayanian and Danielle Haynes  |  June 21, 2018 at 12:56 PM
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June 21 (UPI) -- First lady Melania Trump made a surprise trip to Texas on Thursday to visit border facilities amid the administration's crisis over the separation of families.

The White House said the first lady's goal was to thank law enforcement and social services providers.

Trump visited New Hope Children's Shelter in McAllen, Texas, which houses 55 children, six of whom were separated from their families, the rest unaccompanied. Three children who had been separated from their parents and housed at the facility have since been reunited.

"Oh, that's great. That's three of them, they already reunited," Trump said.

She asked program director Rogelio De La Cerda Jr. about the mental and physical state of the children when they arrive at the shelter.

"Usually, when they get here, they're very distraught in the sense that they don't know where they're at. When they see the environment and they see the other kids and they see the yard, they start relaxing," he said. "The first 24 hour are crucial ... making sure that we got them the basic needs, showers, clothing, food ... before we even start the assessment."

De La Cerda told Trump the children are given recreational activities, spiritual care and down time.

The New Hope Children's Facility is run by Upbring, a non-profit organization that facilitates foster care and adoptions, and runs shelters for children. The company operated as Lutheran Social Services Inc., which was suspended by the state of Texas after the death of a baby in foster care in 2013. The organization instituted new protocols and rebranded as Upbring, according to Reveal, part of the Center for Investigative Reporting.

The Trump administration has been under increasing pressure from the public, religious leaders and lawmakers in Congress to end the practice of separating children from parents. Wednesday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to keep detained migrant families together.

Last week, Melania Trump said she "hates to see" children separated from their parents.

"She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart," the statement read.

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