Melania Trump went on a damage-control mission near the Texas border with Mexico, visiting children displaced by the country s immigration crisis and showing a softer side than the hardline policies of her husband, US President Donald Trump.
The first lady left the White House quietly in the morning on Thursday and flew to Texas for the unannounced visit, a day after Trump signed an executive order keeping intact families who cross into the United States illegally from Mexico.
Her trip came as Washington bureaucrats asked the Pentagon to make preparations to house as many as 20,000 unaccompanied migrant children on US military bases.
Trump reversed his tough stance on separating families after days of outrage over the policy from at home and abroad.
The trip to Texas was the most high-profile public appearance Mrs. Trump had made since undergoing a surgical procedure for a benign kidney condition on May 14. The procedure prompted her to drop largely out of sight for several days.
The first lady met with officials and employees at the facility, where 55 children aged 12 to 17 are housed. Six of them were separated from their parents upon crossing the border, authorities told reporters.
Mrs. Trump sat alongside Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar at a table at Upbring New Hope Children's Center and heard caregivers explain how the children are well treated. She asked many questions, seeking assurances that they are being properly cared for.
"I'm glad I'm here and I'm looking forward to seeing and meeting children, but first of all let me begin to recognise each of you and thanking you for all that you do, for your heroic work that you do every day and what you do for those children," Melania Trump said.