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Melania Trump visits US-Mexico border, sparking controversy with 'I really don't care' jacket

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 22-06-2018 By Harriet Alexander

First lady Melania Trump boards a plane at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Thursday, June 21, 2018, to travel to Texas. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) © AP First lady Melania Trump boards a plane at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Thursday, June 21, 2018, to travel to Texas. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) Melania Trump has made a surprise visit to the US-Mexico border, arriving in Texas on Thursday  to visit the McAllen detention centre and speak to some of the migrant children.

The US first lady, who said at the weekend that she "hates" to see families separated at the border, left the White House quietly on Thursday morning and flew to Texas for the visit.

As she arrived at a military airport near Washington, before heading to Texas, Mrs Trump wore a jacket with 'I REALLY DON'T CARE, DO U?' written in large letters on the back.

First lady Melania Trump boards a plane at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Thursday, June 21, 2018, to travel to Texas. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) © AP First lady Melania Trump boards a plane at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Thursday, June 21, 2018, to travel to Texas. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

When she arrived in Texas the first lady was no longer wearing the $39 jacket from Zara.

It was unclear if anyone on her staff had pointed out the words might seem inappropriate.

The choice of jacket sparked outrage on social media.

Mrs Trump's spokesperson told CNN: "It's a jacket. There was no hidden message. After today's important visit to Texas, I hope the media isn't going to choose to focus on her wardrobe."

© Provided by The Telegraph

The president tweeted that it was a message to the "fake news media".

“I REALLY DON’T CARE, DO U?” written on the back of Melania’s jacket, refers to the Fake News Media. Melania has learned how dishonest they are, and she truly no longer cares!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 21, 2018

Related: Watch: Trump Fires Back After Melania Is Criticized for 'I Really Don't Care' Jacket

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Mrs Trump first visited Upbring New Hope Children’s Shelter, part of Lutheran Social Services - a facility that currently houses about 60 children aged from five to 17, from Guatemala. Only six of the children were separated from parents, and the rest arrived as unaccompanied minors, according to a “senior administration official.”

She will then visit the Ursula border patrol processing center, where migrant families spend a few days being processed.

First lady Melania Trump arrives at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Thursday, June 21, 2018, after visiting the Upbring New Hope Children Center run by the Lutheran Social Services of the South in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) © AP First lady Melania Trump arrives at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Thursday, June 21, 2018, after visiting the Upbring New Hope Children Center run by the Lutheran Social Services of the South in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) Mrs Trump's spokesperson said she wanted to see for herself the situation on the border.

Stephanie Grisham said: “She wanted to see everything for herself. She supports family reunification. She thinks that it’s important that children stay with their families.”

Ms Grisham said the visit was "100 per cent her idea".

She added: "She absolutely wanted to come.

“She wants to see what’s happening for herself and she wants to lend her support, executive order or not. The executive order certainly is helping pave the way a little bit, but there’s still a lot to be done.

a person in a car talking on a cell phone © Provided by The Telegraph

“This was her decision. She told her staff she wanted to go and we made that happen. He is supportive of it but she told him, 'I’m headed down to Texas,’ and he supported it.”

Of course she cares. So why can't we see it?

Asked whether she was making the trip in order to persuade the president to do anything differently, Ms Grisham replied: “She wants to see these children and she wants to help children. It’s not about anything more than that. She wants to see what’s real. She wants to see a realistic view.”

More than 2,000 children have been separated from their parents since April, when Mr Trump's attorney general Jeff Sessions instituted a "zero tolerance" policy.

Mr Trump ended the policy on Wednesday, saying: “Ivanka feels very strongly, my wife feels very strongly about it, I feel very strongly about it.

"I think anybody with a heart would feel very strongly about it. We don’t like to see families separated.”

Her trip to Texas is the most high profile public appearance Mrs Trump has made since undergoing a surgical procedure for a benign kidney condition on May 14.

"Her goals are to thank law enforcement and social service providers for their hard work, lend support and hear more on how the administration can build upon the already existing efforts to reunite children with their families," her office said in a statement.

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And it came amid confusion as to whether  families would still be criminally charged for crossing the border.

First lady Melania Trump arrives at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Thursday, June 21, 2018, after visiting the Upbring New Hope Children Center run by the Lutheran Social Services of the South in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) © AP First lady Melania Trump arrives at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Thursday, June 21, 2018, after visiting the Upbring New Hope Children Center run by the Lutheran Social Services of the South in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The Washington Post reported that border patrol agents have been instructed to stop sending parents with children to federal courthouses for prosecution.

“We’re suspending prosecutions of adults who are members of family units until ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) can accelerate resource capability to allow us to maintain custody,” the official said.

The justice department, however, denied there had been any change in policy and said The Washington Post had it wrong.

"There has been no change to the Department’s zero tolerance policy to prosecute adults who cross our border illegally instead of claiming asylum at any port of entry at the border," said Sarah Isgur Flores, spokesman for the justice department.

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