First lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpFormer aide sees Melania Trump as 'the doomed French queen': book If another 9/11 happened in a divided 2021, could national unity be achieved again? Former Trump aide Stephanie Grisham planning book: report MORE called on Congress to pass "common sense immigration reform" after a surprise visit to the Texas border on Thursday.
In a statement released by the White House after the trip, the first lady said her visit to a nonprofit shelter housing migrant children impacted her "greatly."
“I was very impressed with the center and the hardworking staff and leadership there – and thank them for all of their hard work," Trump said.
"It is my hope that Members of Congress will finally reach across the aisle and work together to solve this problem with common sense immigration reform that secures our borders and keeps families together,” she added.
Today's visit to #Texas to spend time with children & thank the many hardworking individuals helping to care for them was very meaningful. Thank you to @SecAzar @HHSGOV for traveling w me today & the care you are giving these children in such a difficult time. pic.twitter.com/P5orrJ4k6p— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) June 22, 2018
The first lady visited Texas earlier Thursday to meet immigrant children separated from their families as a result of the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy.
She made a stop at Upbring New Hope Children’s Center in McAllen, Texas, a shelter that houses about 55 kids, ages 5 to 17, who are mostly from Guatemala. Six of the children were separated from their parents while the rest arrived as unaccompanied minors, according to a senior administration official.
The first lady made the trip a day after President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump takes shot at new GOP candidate in Ohio over Cleveland nickname GOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default MORE signed an executive order intended to stop the separation of children from adults who illegally cross the United States' southern border, a practice that has been widely criticized in the U.S. and internationally.
Trump's reversal followed days of assurances from the White House that such an order would be unconstitutional as well as incorrect accusations blaming Democrats for the policy.
In her statement, the first lady described the children she met Thursday as "in good spirits" and "eager to learn."
"The children were eager to learn and were kind and in good spirits. Spending time with them reinforces the fact that these kids are in this situation as a direct result of adult action," she said.
The Department of Homeland Security estimates that as many as 2,000 children were separated from their families in a six-week period between April and May of this year, with hundreds more not counted by that statistic.
The administration faced wide backlash this week over images showing children being held inside chain-link fencing as well as over audio obtained by ProPublica of children crying for their parents.
The first lady released her statement as House GOP leaders on Thursday night postponed until next week a vote on a compromise immigration bill after a hardline measure failed earlier in the day.