WASHINGTON — Melania Trump urged “both sides of the aisle” on Sunday to come collectively to cease federal authorities from separating youngsters from their mother and father when apprehended on the border, a uncommon public intervention in a problem that has generated huge criticism of her husband.
In an announcement issued by her workplace, the primary woman expressed empathy for affected households, saying the nation ought to be ruled “with a heart,” however didn’t instantly take concern with President Trump’s coverage. Instead, by saying that “both sides” wanted to agree, she adopted his argument that the state of affairs was attributable to political stalemate relatively than a coverage he initiated.
“Mrs. Trump hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform,” the primary woman mentioned within the assertion, which her workplace mentioned was issued in response to questions by reporters. “She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with a heart.”
The president has falsely blamed Democrats for the state of affairs, saying that he was merely imposing a regulation that they’d written. But no regulation requires households to essentially be separated on the border. Children have been taken away from their mother and father due to a Trump administration “zero tolerance” coverage enacted this 12 months to prosecute all illegal immigrants as criminals.
When mother and father are taken into federal custody, their youngsters are eliminated. Previous administrations made exceptions to such prosecutions for adults touring with minor youngsters, however the Trump administration has mentioned it won’t accomplish that. Nearly 2,000 children had been taken away from their mother and father in a six-week interval ending final month underneath the brand new Trump administration coverage.
Mrs. Trump’s assertion echoed the president’s phrases on Friday, when he informed reporters that “I hate the children being taken away.” He then added, “The Democrats have to change their law — that’s their law.”
At instances, the primary woman has subtly despatched alerts totally different from these of her husband. After Mr. Trump blamed “many sides” for violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., final 12 months, Mrs. Trump posted a message on Twitter saying, “Our country encourages freedom of speech, but let’s communicate w/o hate in our hearts.”
Seven House Democrats made a shock Father’s Day go to to a detention facility in Elizabeth, N.J., on Sunday and mentioned they had been blocked for almost two hours earlier than lastly being allowed to see the mother and father who had been separated from their youngsters.
“Trump claims Democrats are to blame for families’ being broken up,” mentioned one of many Democrats, Representative Bill Pascrell Jr. of New Jersey. “That is a lie. Republicans control every branch of government.”
Some Republican lawmakers have joined Democrats in latest days to push Mr. Trump to reverse or modify the household separation coverage by giving new directions to the Department of Homeland Security.
“President Trump could stop this policy with a phone call,” Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and sometimes an ally and accomplice of the president’s, mentioned on CNN on Friday. “I’ll go tell him. If you don’t like families’ being separated, you can tell D.H.S. stop doing it.”
Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, condemned the separations, besides in instances the place there may be proof of abuse or one other good motive.
“What the administration has decided to do is to separate children from their parents to try to send a message that, if you cross the border with children, your children are going to be ripped away from you,” she mentioned on “Face the Nation” on CBS. “That is traumatizing to the children, who are innocent victims. And it is contrary to our values in this country.”
“We know from years of experience that we need to fix our immigration laws,” she added, “and that using children is not the answer.”
Anthony Scaramucci, who served briefly as White House communications director, mentioned separating youngsters from their households is just not “the Christian way” or “the American way,” and made clear he thinks Mr. Trump can finish it on his personal. “The President can reverse it and I hope he does,” he wrote on Twitter.
Mr. Trump has mentioned in latest days that Democrats ought to agree to his panoply of immigration measures, together with full financing for a border wall and revamping the system of authorized entry to the nation, in impact making clear that any laws addressing household separation should additionally embrace his priorities.
A prime adviser to Mr. Trump mentioned on Sunday that the president was not utilizing the household separation as leverage to drive Democrats to come to the desk on different coverage disputes, rebutting an unnamed White House official quoted by The Washington Post.
“What the president is saying is if the Democrats are serious, they’ll come together again and try to close these loopholes and get real immigration reform,” Kellyanne Conway, the White House counselor, mentioned on “Meet the Press” on NBC.
“As a mother, as a Catholic, as somebody who has got a conscience, and wouldn’t say the junk that somebody said, apparently, allegedly, I will tell you that nobody likes this policy,” she mentioned. “You saw the president on camera that he wants this to end, but everybody has, Congress has to act.”
Follow Peter Baker on Twitter: @peterbakernyt