First Lady Melania Trump may have gone missing for nearly a month, but now that she’s back, she’s not staying quiet.
On Sunday, the First Lady’s communication’s director Stephanie Grisham released a statement on Melania’s behalf addressing the contentious “zero-tolerance” policy President Donald Trump and his administration have enforced that separates children from their parents at the U.S. border (almost 2,000 children have been removed from their families so far). Attorney General Jeff Sessions referenced the bible last week to defend the policy, but now Melania (notably, not any other member of the Trump family) that’s lending her voice to the conversation.
“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,” Grisham told CNN. “She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart.”
The First Lady rarely speaks up about issues—controversial or otherwise— so that she’s decided to release a statement referencing a policy that even some Republicans are criticizing says a lot about the gravity of the situation.
Former First Lady Laura Bush also addressed her concerns with the policy in an op-ed for The Washington Post on Sunday. “I live in a border state. I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart,” she wrote.
“These images are eerily reminiscent of the Japanese American internment camps of World War II, now considered to have been one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. history,” she continued.
Bush also referenced Colleen Kraft’s report that “the people working at the shelter had been instructed not to pick up or touch the children to comfort them.” She compared the situation to the children’s homes at the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis, where children born with the disease were considered “untouchables.”
She recalled how her mother-in-law, then-First Lady Barbara Bush, had snuggled a fussy infant. “My mother-in-law never viewed her embrace of that fragile child as courageous. She simply saw it as the right thing to do in a world that can be arbitrary, unkind and even cruel,” she said.
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Similarly, former First Lady Hillary Clinton also denounced the policy earlier this month, sharing her point of view on Twitter. “Like so many others, I am horrified and heartbroken by what is happening to immigrant kids and families because of this administration’s disastrous policies,” she wrote in a thread. “There is no more important test of our country than the way we treat the most vulnerable among us, especially children. We cannot turn away from what’s happening on our watch—we have to act.”
Will Melania act, too? Her comments on immigration policy are her first, marking a quiet transition from her not-so-present role as First Lady to closely flirting with the idea of trumping the president’s law. Perhaps she too will step up and soon take a stance against the Donald.