Transcript for First Lady Melania Trump visits Texas to see migrant children separated from parents
quickly as possible. Reporter: On a surprise trip to McAllen, Texas, first lady Melania trump visited the front lines in her husband's battle over illegal immigration. Talking to workers at the new hope children's migrant shelter, meeting some of the children who have been torn from their families. The first lady spent a little over an hour peppering workers with questions. Those children, how many times they speak with their relatives or families per week, for example? Well, the children are allowed to communicate with their family twice a week. They get to have a phone call. Reporter: The shelter is home to 55 children. 27 boys and 28 girls ages 12 to 17. Most came from Guatemala and were unaccompanied minors. Only six of them separated from family. This is a classic role for a first lady. I think Melania trump knows how to play that role very effectively. Go down there, ask some questions, interact with people, speak to the cameras, to focus the attention of the country where she believes it should be focused right now, on the plight and the circumstances of the children separated under this policy. Reporter: Her spokeswoman says the trip was Melania's idea. My wife, our first lady, is down now at the border. Because it really bothered her to be looking at this and to seeing it as it bothered me, as it bothered everybody at this table. Reporter: The shelter the first lady visited was vastly different from the ones that have saturated the American consciousness for the past week, complete with cages and children shrouded in Mylar blankets. First daughter Ivanka Trump was apparently so moved by those images she reportedly showed them to her father, encouraging him to end the separation policy. Today she tweeted, now that an eo has been signed ending family separation at the border, it is time to focus on swiftly and safely reuniting the families that have been separated. His wife and daughter were only the closest people to him making an argument that became overwhelming. He saw this on television, he heard the voices, he knew how this was playing. In this case his vaunted instincts failed him. Reporter: Whether private pressure or the public outcry, yesterday president trump signed an executive order ending the practice of separating migrant parents who are crossing the border illegally from their children. It's been reported that hundreds of families have already been reunited. But the president is not giving up on his zero tolerance stance. You took zero tolerance away, everybody would come right now. They'd be getting their little belongings, unfortunately, and they would be heading up. You would be -- you would have a run on this country the likes of which nobody's ever seen. Reporter: Shelters across the country are filled with migrant children. Today the government releasing new images from some of the 100 shelters where children sit in limbo, media unable to film inside. In Florida, children taking art classes. In Virginia, a math lesson. Then soccer. For the first time we see a baby being rocked by a caretaker at a so-called tender age shelter. According to customs and border protection, more than 2,300 children were separated from their families between may 5th and June 9th. Those separated children were placed in the care of the department of health and human services while their parents remain in the custody of the department of homeland security. You've got a big legal mess here. On one hand zero tolerance policy which basically says, we don't want to release people pending trial. And you've got a requirement that they're only allowed to keep someone with a kid there for 20 days. And there's going to be a tension between those two. Reporter: The chaos compounded by the administration's mixed messages. We can't do it through executive order. We are keeping families together. Reporter: Even the first lady's trip, meant to send a message of compassion, instead sewed the threads of confusion as these photos surfaced, the message on the back of her jacket, "I really don't care do you." Her spokes woman saying, it's a jacket, there was no hidden message. After today's important visit to Texas, I hope this isn't what the media is going to choose to focus on. This was inexapplicable. Images matter. This was about images and this is among the images that come out. She made a decision to wear that jacket. Whether she thought it through, whether people around her thought it through, that was what she chose as an article of clothing. That becomes a major piece of the story. Because the message was what it was, it becomes its own thing. Reporter: The president with his own take saying the jacket's message refers to the fake news media. Melania has learned how dishonest they are and she truly no longer cares. But a war of words does little to soothe motors like ibis Guzman, detained in Seattle. Her 5-year-old son nearly 1,800 miles away in a San Antonio shelter. From jail she says she imagines how desperate her son is all alone and she is fighting to reunite with him. But as of tonight no answers. Other separated children have begun showing up in cities around the country, including New York. Last night, seven boys, hooded with heads down, walked through Laguardia airport after arriving on a flight from Texas. Apparently unaccompanied migrant children. New York City mayor bill de Blasio said the federal government never told him they were sending separated children to his city. I've never seen anything like this. Reporter: Mayors from across the country, including de Blasio, descending upon that tent city in torreal, Texas, demanding families be reunited immediately. People are demanding a change and it cannot be ignored. If it won't happen in Washington, we will make it happen. Reporter: On capitol hill. The bill is not passed. Reporter: The latest immigration reform bill failed to pass. Congress has been paralyzed on the issue of immigration for more than a generation. President trump has not been able to break that logjam. Reporter: Inside the U.S. Capitol, dozens of young children protesting in silence, wrapped in those same Mylar blankets seen in those detention centers. While most agree children shouldn't suffer, some like cattle rancher Roberto Escobar in Texas say something must be done to address illegal immigration. They come in here illegally. And we, the taxpayers, wind up footing the bill for everything starting from education, food, clothing, housing, you name it. Health care. Who's going to pay for all of that? We are. And I don't think that's right. Reporter: This just-released cover of "Time" magazine a reminder that the fallout over the trump administration's family separation policy may be lasting. For "Nightline," I'm geo Benitez in El Paso, Texas.
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