A few dozen protesters greeted first lady Melania Trump as she arrived at Southwest Key, a nonprofit shelter for immigrant youth in Phoenix. Photo by Amanda Fahey / Cronkite News
'We care for these kids': Protesters hit Melania Trump on visit to migrant shelter

Melania Trump visits Phoenix facility for migrant children, takes tour in Tucson

By Amanda Fahey
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – First lady Melania Trump visited the Southwest Key shelter in Phoenix Thursday to talk to staff and children housed there. She toured a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility in Tucson earlier in the day.

A few dozen protesters greeted Trump as she arrived at the nonprofit shelter for immigrant youth. Many donned olive-green attire with messages on the back, including ones that said “Abolish ICE.” The messages were written in stylized white paint that mimicked Trump’s now infamous “I really don’t care. Do u?” jacket she wore on her way to a Texas child detention center earlier this month.

Vannia Moreno, who said her mother is an immigrant, participated in Thursday’s protest to send a message to Melania Trump.

“We’re out here protesting saying that we do care,” Moreno said. “We care for these kids that are being held in these detention centers, and it’s inhumane.”

Cronkite News Video by Jordan Dafnis: First lady Melania Trump's visit to Arizona

Earlier this month, President Donald Trump issued an executive order, telling immigration officials to keep undocumented immigrant families together. It came after weeks of criticism over his administration’s “zero tolerance” policy that led to the separation of families at the border, according to an earlier Cronkite News article.

His executive order did not reverse the zero-tolerance policy, and adults caught at the border will still be referred for criminal prosecution or held while their asylum claims are assessed.

Protesters chanted in English and Spanish: “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Melania Trump has got to go” as first lady Melania Trump’s motorcade arrived at the Southwest Key facility in Phoenix. Photo by Amanda Fahey / Cronkite News

But reuniting families separated at the border has proven complicated.

In fact, the CEO of Southwest Key, which operates programs in seven states, has waded into the family separation issue.

In a tweet, the nonprofit said: “The chief executive of the nation’s largest shelters for migrant children said Tuesday he fears a lack of urgency by the U.S. government could mean it will take months to reunite thousands of immigrant children with their parents.”

After the motorcade arrived at the facility, a security detail escorted Melania Trump through the back entrance. She stayed for about 45 minutes, but she did not address the protesters and media outside the shelter.

On Thursday, protesters chanted in English and Spanish: “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Melania Trump has got to go” as her motorcade arrived at the facility.

Demonstrators came with coolers of water and a large awning that stood next to a inflatable Donald Trump wearing a Ku Klux Klan robe.

Melania Trump held a roundtable discussion with facility staff and visited three rooms at the shelter, where she spoke to children.

Melania Trump told the workers she was “here to support you,” according to the Associated Press.

The facility, near 27th Avenue and Indian School Road, houses more than 100 children who range from infants up to 17.

This story originally appeared on Cronkite News and is published via a Creative Commons license. Cronkite News is produced by the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.