MELANIA’S SECOND ACT: Attire is generally an aside with White House pool reports, but Melania Trump’s outfit Thursday was clearly stated in the first and second reports detailing her arrival at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Ariz., en route to a detention center visit.
Leaving nothing to chance after wearing a controversial Zara jacket to visit migrant children separated from their parents in McAllen, Tex., the First Lady deplaned wearing a black top with three-quarter sleeves, white pants with black piping, black pointy flats and large black sunglasses. She later changed into white sneakers, according to a pool report. A week ago FLOTUS sparked an international firestorm by wearing an Army green Zara jacket with “I Really Don’t Care, Do U?” printed in large lettering on the back. Known to buy her clothing, as opposed to having designers give her pieces for free, Trump purchased the white pants online, her stylist Herve Pierre said Thursday.
Her 80-minute stop at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Tucson station included a roundtable discussion with federal officials and a rancher. The talk included U.S. Customs and Border Protection commissioner Kevin McAleenan, U.S. Marshal David Gonzales, ICE ERO deputy field operations director Jesse Williams and others. FLOTUS also had a closed press tour of an intelligence center.
She was told by McAleenan that 1,600 people — including 539 in families — tried to enter the U.S. illegally yesterday. She was also shown a photograph of a six-year-old boy with a note in his hand and a bottle of Coke, who was left alone near Luke Air Force Base. McAleenan said the agency issued a press release on it, and the pool was later informed by a CBP public affairs officer that the boy is alive.
Tucson Sector Border Patrol’s chief patrol agent Rodolfo Karisch told her, “People also have to understand the danger of the desert, of the heat,” according to a pool report by USA Today’s Gregory Korte. He also spoke of how “immigration enforcement has been characterized as ‘cruel and heartless,’ but that is not the case.”
Protesters were waiting for FLOTUS in Tucson outside of the detention center, based on images posted at Azcentral.com. Demonstrators holding signs that read, “They Are Children Not Criminals,” “Shame” and “Damn Well Should Care” were among their messages. Another cardboard sign that read “We Really Do Care, Why Don’t You Melania” was strung along a fence.
After the roundtable, the First Lady visited a short-term holding and processing center where all of the detainees were from Guatemala and Honduras, and had been there for less than 72 hours. Trump started her tour in an elevated command pod called “The Bubble,” before entering the area with eight detention cells with some having signs indicating a maximum capacity of nine to 13 people. The first cell was marked for families where FLOTUS saw a seemingly teenaged mother and a three-year-old boy who repeatedly peeked out of the door, according to the fourth pool report. “The First Lady smiled at him and said, ‘Hi! How are you?’ The little boy later turned and looked at all the cameras, before returning to the cell,” Korte reported.
Trump started her visit by thanking border patrol officials for all their hard work. “I know how difficult and dangerous your daily jobs are,” she said. “I am here to support you and help any way I can.”
The second leg of Thursday’s trip was Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix. That destination — the Southwest Key migrant facility — was embargoed for the press until their arrival. Her spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham told them earlier that, having worked in Arizona politics, she knows how quickly protests can form and there’s a special sensitivity for White House officials after recent events.”
That preemptive measure didn’t pan out considering protesters had gathered outside. A giant balloon-like figure reminiscent of President Trump towered over the people, according to a report. The First Lady was informed that the licensed child care facility had been operating for 20 years and its primary work is to try to do a safe reunification. She thanked officials, told them she wanted to visit the facility and the children and offered her help.
FLOTUS’ spokeswoman Grisham told the press pool, that the First Lady has given her husband her views on controversial political issues throughout his presidency, but conceded that it’s never been as public as with the issue of immigrant children. “I would say this is very visible. She cares about children deeply,” Grisham said. “She also believes in strong border laws and treating everybody equally.”