Protesters just greeted Melania with a surprise depiction of Trump she’ll never forget

Nearly three dozen protesters gathered near the Southwest Key migrant concentration camp in west Phoneix today to greet First Lady Melania Trump.  A giant balloon in the shape of her husband clad in a Ku Klux Klan robe accompanied the crowd as they awaited for her arrival.

The demonstrators gathered to protest the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policies toward undocumented immigrants, which on the ground resulted in the forced separation of parents and children.  This continues to be an issue even after the president issued an executive order that he said would compel ICE to reunite families.

The police kept the protesters across the street from the facility run by Southwest Key, a nonprofit that runs 26 shelters to house immigrants in Arizona, Texas, and California.

Eventually, a caravan of vehicles with a police escort arrived and went directly to a back door away from the street where the protesters and their Trump Grand Wizard balloon were waiting, according to a tweet by Matthew Carsey, a reporter for KJZZ in Phoenix.

It is not clear that Melania Trump ever actually saw the protesters or the Trump KKK air balloon, as she was whisked inside the facility with as little public interaction as possible.

This was Mrs. Trump’s second visit to a facility that houses immigrant youth at the border, but this time she dressed in a black top and white pants without the jacket that caused controversy last time at a McAllen, Texas facility.  The White House continues to insist that the message on the back that read “I really don’t care, do u?” contained no hidden message and that the media is making a mountain out of a molehill again.

At the time it was taken as an insult to the immigrants, even though Mrs. Trump’s spokesperson claimed it was not mean to be.  The president later tweeted that the jacket was aimed at the “fake news” media, but other reports said that story was concocted after the visit to try and calm the anger directed at Trump’s foreign-born wife.

The controversial jacket by the designer Zara is now selling, used, on eBay and elsewhere for between $500 and $1.000 each.

Some of the anger over the policy of separating families seemed to fade after Trump signed his executive order, but since then it appears few if any children have actually been reunited with their parents.  In some cases, the government can’t find records needed to match them back up again.  Apparently few facilities kept records and those that did followed no consistent format.

Meanwhile, Trump’s executive order did not change anything about his policy of refusing to consider anyone for asylum, another pillar of the new “zero tolerance” stance.  Other administrations from both parties going back multiple generations and have screened all claims of asylum and ruled on a case by case basis.   Not this one, however.  A federal court order from a judge in California has given the Trump administration 30 days to reunited the children with their parents.

The first facility that Melania Trump visited was not actually filled with migrant children separated from their parents (she canceled a visit to a real holding center).  The children she met today, however, have apparently been separated from their parents.

There was no immediate reaction from the First Lady. As of late afternoon Thursday, she had not tweeted about the visit, as she did after her time in Texas.

It is hard to recall a president’s wife in modern times who has been seen less, done less, or had as little impact on America as Melania Trump, who has spent most of her time out of public sight.

So the mere fact that she finally fit something at least potentially constructive into her schedule between being the president’s trophy wife, taking care of her son, and whatever it is that otherwise fills her days, is a kind of news in its own right.

That said, the balloon effigy of the president has still had a bigger symbolic impact than anything Mrs. Trump has done since the border crisis erupted earlier this month.  

Benjamin Locke

Benjamin Locke is a retired college professor with an undergraduate degree in Industrial Labor and Relations from Cornell University and an MBA from the European School of Management.