Melania Trump flew to Texas today to tour a child detention facility. Photos from the Upbring New Hope Children’s Center suggest that the first lady is touring a newly renovated school—a far cry from recent images of children sleeping under mylar blankets, being led through tent cities and screaming for their separately detained parents.
It’s not clear why the first lady visited the detention center, or what the visit was intended to achieve, other than a photo op. A spokeswoman told CNN that she hoped to gain “a realistic view of what’s happening.”
She had condemned the Trump administration’s child separation policy earlier this week, and reportedly lobbied husband Donald Trump to end it. The president’s eventual capitulation to widespread popular outrage came too late, though: More than 2,300 children, however, have already been taken from their parents and sent to camps and centers as far-flung as Michigan. According to his executive order, immigrant families illegally crossing the border will now be imprisoned together.
No clear plan has yet been proposed by the government to reunite the parents and children who have been separated. In the meantime, defense contractors, wealthy organizations, and commercial airlines continue to facilitate the children’s detention.
During her trip, Mrs. Trump viewed the flags of various central American countries hanging on the wall, met with some children, and sat for a roundtable discussion with local officials. However, photos from her trip do not mesh with the rows of cages in cavernous detention facilities shown in government handout photos, nor with the accounts and audio of children crying for their parents.
Instead, these pictures offer only the most sanitized, distant view of the crisis of child detention: an empty bed room, arts and crafts projects of unknown authorship hanging on walls. The children themselves are tellingly absent from the frame.