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Melania Trump flew to Texas for a photo op at a child detention center

Reuters/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. first lady Melania Trump poses in front of a U.S. flag after touring the Lutheran Social Services of the South “Upbring New Hope Children’s Center”
  • Johnny Simon
By Johnny Simon

Deputy Photo Editor

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

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.

Reuters/Kevin Lamarque -
US first lady Melania Trump visits a room as Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar (R) looks on during a tour of the Lutheran Social Services of the South “Upbring New Hope Children’s Center” near the U.S.-Mexico border in McAllen, Texas.
Reuters/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. first lady Melania Trump tours the Lutheran Social Services of the South “Upbring New Hope Children’s Center.”
Reuters/Kevin Lamarque
Flag from central American countries hang from the walls at the center for migrant children.
Reuters/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. first lady Melania Trump listens during a roundtable meeting.

Read more: All the things you can do to help end family separations at the border

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