First lady Melania Trump makes trip to child detention center

The first lady stirred controversy with an unusual fashion choice amid tense debate on family separation.
17:02 | 06/21/18

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Transcript for First lady Melania Trump makes trip to child detention center
Yeah. Either and welcome to eighty seat is live on ABC news political director recline to a nearby Terry Moran. Making is the view on this album ruckus night debut while at the Eric. We also got our White House chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl joining us and wanna start with the big headline of the day Terry and and we'll get John in on this as well. The lions come basis makes a visit heads down two 21 of these facilities has been using to. Used to house some of the kids that have been subject to this new policy. Out we're gonna talk about her choice of wardrobe in a second. But but Terry what's your sense of the message this sends for her ago just went for hours after the president reverses course on this policy showing up they aren't trying to focus on the kids are detained. I think the message is message we care. Art wasn't there admitted that there was a message I think George Bush George first George Bush had scrawled on a piece of paper message I care. And in this instance after the uproar about this policy film a separation. If it frankly to traditional presidential moved to get the First Lady involved to soften the harsh edges when perceived harsher edges. A policy and I think one of the reasons she went down there. Was to help do that there's another possibility however and I'm sure that are white testers will no more than on this. How much of an independent actor might you be there's a there's a sense. Always with maligning partly because. She isn't that that vocal and maybe she is pursuing an agenda for the children here that's more around. And her husband Jon Karl what do you think it actually did let let us know earlier in the week that she disagreed with this policy when it was still the policy before the president reversed themselves. Yes sort of offer slot I eighths up I I agree entirely. With Terry hit him it it's a case here message I care. Which makes me. A little dumbfounded by the jacket reckon I think you're commenting on First Lady fashion is not usually something I didn't put. I mean come on it that the jacket really said I don't really care do you. That's you know what does that in the back of her jacket. It said I really don't care do you with a 39 dollar jacket that as a longer for sale ads are good price on how to jacket. And. Looks great in it she looks great in it. John I got it I know but I'm. I'm sorry I'm I'm I'm. I guess I'm speechless on this written. Well people are our team asked the White House for response as the first lady's response in the answer back was. There was no hidden message and I icicle don't wasn't that didn't it was right on the back and Alter it's it was now home. I would hope there was. A hidden message that would contradict the message that was anyway obviously you last. About how much of an independent actor she is here I you know one thing. That the first lady's office was adamant in telling reporters. As she made her way down. For this trip. Was the eight. This was her idea ago did she then wintour husband has been endorsed the idea ever going but they wanted to be explicit. Which he was not directed to go by the president was not directed to go by the White House communications operation that this was her idea to go. It she wanted to see the human cost. She wanted to understand what was happening down there. In terms of her criticism of the policy she criticized. Our family separation should never kind of directly. Said anything about the president zero tolerance policy or or made its. You know attract criticism of the president himself but she made it clear that the idea of separating families of the border was not something that she thought was humane. Sent to John 24 hours in with the with the first lady's visit and I and the president having a political rally last night and then now speaking again about the issues today. How will anything more about what the policy means what's gonna happen to these kids that have been detained. What zero tolerance will mean in it in effect. Obviously what the with the policy the United States government is in terms of handling these kids and handling future cases like. No it's not clear Rick what what the thing is is most on clears what happens to the children that have already been separated by their families. The initial guidance we got after this executive action was signed. Was that this was not about that there would not be an effort to reunite the children. With their families and then you're not long after that we were told the exact opposite the president is sad that it and and and the First Lady has suggested. It's about getting. That's the these kids have already been separated back together or it's unclear what the mechanism for doing that. Will be in charge of of of making that happen totally unclear in terms of the policy of what happens when somebody is arrested will when he family is arrested. Are crossing the border illegally and declares asylum as you know the zero tolerance policy meant. That they were taking the adults in two and incarcerating them pending their hearing. And they were removing the children off to separate facility that was not a criminal justice facility at a health and human services. Facility so that changes now and the idea is they the families will be the children will be incarcerated along with their parents where. How how will be done if there are enough resources and facilities to house them all all on the answered questions and still looming out there. And and we can ask our legal scholar -- Avery about this is is the we still have the floor as consent decree. Which says. Did the that the children cannot be detained. In the criminal justice system. For more than twenty days. So we have a twenty day period now where that can be addressed but I it's unclear to me what happens if there is no resolution. If there's if if if the courts don't change that or there is nothing. That congress passes to change that what happens to the children after twenty it. What John that the party who have petitioned the drug administration courts to take another look at that floor settlement but I'd also like to say that. We put it this way. We used to be a pragmatic people in fact it was the distinction of American politics there. People write a little that they were left little bit but basically or pragmatists they like what work. And there are alternatives. To detention. Lot. Some of the more spent to some of them less expensive. This notion that it's either catch and release meaning they disappear and we cannot enforce the laws. Or you've got to separate the children from from the parent or in violation of the floors agreement detain them all. There was the family case management program which the trump administration killed in in June. Which. Basically they with the Fam it was kept together a case worker was assigned and in that. Program 99 point 6% of the people enrolled in that program showed up at their court hearings. And ice hearings they showed up 99 point 6%. There's ankle bracelets right which they can put on the leader of the of the family unit that has come and there's all kinds of practical pragmatic solutions. They don't violate our values and can secure the border that she's recently did well but right now everybody wants to go to their corners and fight. Wright and and that seems to be the mood of the country right now is that return to it from five years overseas. Where is. Really we can do this there's a 114 million dollars in the budget right now for alternatives to detention and it's that's doable thing. And in his case at least is complicated by the fact that the administration is it. In about forty from corners itself you've got the family you've got the president himself he's got his department Paula securities Department of Justice sometimes at cross purposes Cortland asking Cordova douse Dion on cable even separate from that. Up meanwhile president I. Yeah I gotta say I think I gotta say I don't think that the president and his interest in an alternative to deter you want tapper that's percent amid. It's been fascinating Terry to watch after he signed that's. Executive action which by the way he didn't need to sign anything. He was just you know directing his. Asking is Justice Department to challenge that Flores. Settlements. And two was to begin holding the families together. While they were incarcerated he did he'd actually sign anything to make that happen. But as he signed that he wanted to make it abundantly clear that his zero tolerance policy was not changing. They were not loosening up whatsoever in terms of border enforcement and cracking down those. Who crossed the legal legally in fact he said it may get tougher and of course he had the rally last night in in Minnesota that looked full on. You know campaign 26 team. A railing against. Immigration. While he didn't enforce the laws secure the board from all the hell out as he says if he wants to. But detention is that picture and the image in this visceral appeal love it. These alternatives to detention have a track record. You can throw people out from that system if you. If you manage efforts adjudicated now. Is to me while the president did call for in last night and today. That did the house pick pick up the immigration bills maybe a little bit of a half hearted endorsement some mixed message along the way but some news from Capitol Hill as we bring in. Our troops up there's very went on Parkinson over on the house side. They'll vote today on the main measure that has a chance of passage are they just delaying the inevitable they just plain do not have the votes right now John. I think that's exactly right Rick they're gonna have a meeting here at 430. Conference meeting where members will be briefed. On this compromise measure are still trying to learn outs and some of these facts from this bill a lot of the members in the conference really just don't know what's in that legislation without with the leaders of the same is reasoning for this. Eighteen hour delay was we expect the vote before noon tomorrow on this compromise legislation. And is on the floor earlier this afternoon. Because Latin measure actually went down but it did get a 193 votes which in my opinion is is much better than than we would have anticipated. And as we wait on that John some news in from the first lady's office that the aggression that the spokeswoman for the First Lady despite out of tweet. Responding to this with some carefully chosen passed tax today's visit with children in Texas impacted flow discreetly he was spending time and energy. On her actions and efforts helped his residence speculating focus on her wardrobe. He gets so much accomplished on behalf of children here the hash tags she cares and it's just the jacket. Terry Eaton Eaton makes you think in this in this case it is hard to figure out a actual rationale she would have had to choose to make a political statement with this in maybe she just chose a jacket that happened to say this. Maybe that was the best item of clothing that she could find at the moment. It's it's hard to find enough people more than I thought I put on a suit today but it doesn't match my pants are so maybe just she grabs her and off Iraq. And she put it on and she'd forgotten that that jacket she got had a very stylish very mysterious. You know I don't really cared to use him message on the back of it. And work walking up the steps of what would be your fourth months ago when. I don't I don't. Get it this is a First Lady who. Is a former model this a First Lady who. Who pays very close attention to what she wears she is not like Terry Maria. I don't care what have you bumps up pop up on grandpa he looked great on the I mean I mean she. She is very careful about what she wears in public she she is. She makes fashion statement she makes statements with what she wears. I don't understand this and I don't really think your tweets from and. I think we're gonna have to leave it is inexplicable. For for this it at least. One at the flip over to the senate sides Al Alli Rogen has been standing by an Alley even talking to members of congress all week. And there are so many of proposals out there a lot of reaction over the present. He is saying are you just flabbergasted by all of it and try didn't understand with a White House is moments or moments on this issue I can't remember. A time where they seem as flat footed and is contradictory. As the last couple a days. Yeah Rick I think in terms of the house process he's seen the president take about every position you can possibly take. On those two immigration bills that John Parkinson was talking about but look. The fact that they were voting on these two house bills which remember these have been in in progress for weeks now. So they weren't necessarily direct reaction to the new policies and we separation. And as they were making those bills were making their way through. The house legislative process you're the least bit Bettina if you will the impression. That there was some momentum on this issue. That the house was going to do something to act on this issue as well as some of the broader aspects of the bills that they were debating. But did their first bill the conservative option failed today it's not looking great for the moderate option if it gets a vote tomorrow. So the question is where do we go from here I talked to one of the highest ranking senate Republicans today. He said that the senate is basically going to wait for the house to act. And meanwhile on the senate side there's divisions within the Republican Party. On the democratic side. All of the senate Democrats actually have staked out a position in favor of a bill. That would essentially Republicans say restore. The practice of quote unquote catch and release Republicans say that's unacceptable and what do they want to see is. The ability to detain dailies together which of course Democrats. Are already characterizing as indefinite imprisonment for young children so. These talking points are all our honey well entrenched and we haven't really even gotten beyond the first two bills that have been voted on so. This is going to be a very messy legislative process going forward even though it is a simple issue that everybody professes to want to solve. In the long term wreck. Alley Rogen up on the senate side a Capitol Hill thanks so much. It's it it's a Terry try to make sense of these couple of days if you can coming coming back from front of readers overseas you cover previous White House's. This is it the pieces and found a couple of days I think a lot of ways maybe the president's own instincts failed him and that's exacerbated the problem. But in terms of oak in terms of management terms of optics this has been a pretty rough couple of days tit for a lot of Americans is the washed. Element recognize I think the president was trusting what he has. One with so far which is this. Visceral appeal right now to so many Americans. That the borders out of control we have to seal it that in this this issues embedded in that larger context and I would say. Migration is the most important issue in the world right. And I would like I lived in Britain for five years Brecht was driven by mines are right that covered the million people came into. Into Europe are a lot of them into Germany Angela Merkel now on the ropes politically. In this country. Right now we got about 14%. Or so little under. Americans people living in America or not native born that's almost at an all time high. And if you look at Ed win it for crest up above 101213%. That's when you get first the first great restrictive. Immigration bill the 1920s you get the Chinese exclusion really Canadian. We seem to have a ceiling even in this immigrant friendly country where people think it's going too far too fast and the lowest point. American history where there were the lowest percentage of foreign born Americans 1970. When older Americans like me or either kids growing up or teenagers. It was. To all intents and purposes and many many communities and all white America and that change that has happened with this enormous wave of immigration. That's what's timing the legislative process trump is has a genius for four firing that concern into a certain set of approaches. And this time he went too far we found out that you know what the majority of American people the substantial majority of American people. Are gonna go that. He found he couldn't create its own reality here he's there he saw we saw all along. All right that does it for this edition ABC news live camera and these are making did you doesn't. Jon Karl thanks so much tougher for joining hear from the bureau thanks Alan Roman and John Parkinson. What does all day long here at abcnews.com. That's next time he's in his line.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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