melania trump

I Really Don’t Care, Do You?

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melania trumpAmidst an ever-loudening outcry from advocacy groups, lawmakers, and common citizens over the Trump administration’s practice of separating immigrant children from their families at the border, First Lady Melania Trump made an unplanned visit to a children’s shelter in Texas.

According to a report from CNN, “federal authorities have separated at least 2,000 children from their parents.” The move came as Trump worked to fulfill a campaign promise to crack down on illegal immigration. In May, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen put into action a plan to prosecute, in federal courts, everyone apprehended entering the United States illegally. This works hand-in-hand with the Justice Department’s new zero-tolerance policy regarding illegal entry into the country. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ordered federal prosecutors to refer criminal charges accordingly. To emphasis the seriousness of the threat, Sessions told a group from the Association of State Criminal Investigative Agencies, “So, if you cross the border unlawfully, even [if it is] a first offense, we’re going to prosecute you. If you’re smuggling a child, we’re going to prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you, probably, as required by law. If you don’t want your child to be separated, then don’t bring them across the border illegally.” Asylum seekers are not exempt from the policy and may carry a conviction, even if a judge later grants their asylum request.

With parents being detained in federal prisons, provision had to be made for the children taken from them at the time of their arrest. The government opted to house them in warehouses, a former Walmart, and other such facilities. Inside these vast buildings, the children live in cages made of chain link fencing. Reports have surfaced of teenagers looking after younger children whom they do not even know because the government has not provided adequate care.

In late June, U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego ordered the Trump administration to reunited children with their parents within thirty days (within fourteen days for children under five years of age). Further, President Trump signed an executive order ending the practice of separating families. The Justice Department is seeking to satisfy both orders, not by releasing children and their parents, but by ensuring that parents and their children are jailed together as the parents await trial. Even this move is proving problematic as the government has failed to keep the records needed to trace the children back to their parents. CNN reported, “In some cases, federal officials secretly sent the children to city facilities without notifying the local government, as was the case in New York City, making finding them even more complicated.”

The federal government was quick to tear families asunder but is being slow in righting that wrong. It is in this atmosphere that First Lady Melania journeyed to Texas. For the trip, she chose to wear a military-green jacket. Across the back, in large white letters, it read, “I REALLY DON’T CARE, DO U?” Her spokesperson claimed it was just apparel and there was no hidden message. To this, her critics replied that the message was, indeed, loud and clear.