By Roberto Hugo Gonzalez

As originally published in Texas Border Business newsprint edition October 2018

First Lady Melania Trump visits children at the Pediatric Hospital Bambino Gesu, Wednesday May 24, 2017, in Vatican City. Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks
First Lady Melania Trump visits children at the Pediatric Hospital Bambino Gesu, Wednesday May 24, 2017, in Vatican City. Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks

The surprise visit of the First Lady of the United States Melania Trump to McAllen, Texas was pleasing, especially for those who were not distracted by the message on the back of her coat. I admit when I first read “I Really Don’t Care, Do U?” I didn’t understand the meaning. However, I did not let my attention deviate from the First Lady’s goodwill towards the migrant children sent to shelters by the U.S. government after their families entered the country illegally. As she stated just this week, “I wish people would focus on what I do, not what I wear.”

It was reported by the AP, that this trip was her idea and that President Trump was supportive. She told him, “I am headed down to Texas.”

Sandra Darling, First Lady of McAllen
Sandra Darling, First Lady of McAllen

For this reason, I asked Sandra Darling, our First Lady in McAllen and wife of Mayor Jim Darling, for her opinion about the First Lady’s visit and she wrote: “I think her visit, especially to one of the school setting resident-holding facilities for the children seeking asylum was positive. Unfortunately, the news media gave more attention to the jacket than the real story. Her comment on the separation issue was also appreciated.  I know our nation can do better than what we had done to address the issues,” Sandra Darling.

Does it matter that she came because they were from Central America? I say no. Does it matter that they were children? Yes, that’s the main reason. The fact is that the First Lady cares, and she chose to leave Washington to visit the Valley which had had unprecedented heavy rains causing flooding. To give you an example, headlines like this below were coming out of the national media, and that didn’t stop First Lady Melania Trump.

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McAllen, Texas – Days of heavy downpours turned homes in McAllen, Texas, into islands surrounded by flood waters.

For us, here in the Valley, it is not surprising, the influx of Central American families coming to this area with the intention of traveling north and to reunite with friends or families. But what is surprising is a visit by a First Lady of the United States. That doesn’t happen often. She came because she wanted a first-hand look at the situation. She came because she cares. She came because she is also a mother.

Dalia Molina, First Lady of Edinburg
Dalia Molina, First Lady of Edinburg

I asked Dalia Molina, the First Lady of Edinburg, Texas, and wife of Mayor Richard Molina, for her opinion on this matter, and she wrote: “The First Lady is a mother before all else.  Having her visit the Valley in June showed her heart for children. She was here to see their situation for herself.  A child’s well-being transcends any party line,” Dalia Molina.

Most of the people that I spoke to about her visit felt that First Lady Melania has her heart in the right place, and demonstrated the love she feels for children, no matter where they are from, they deserve to be protected and cared for by someone who loves them as well.

The morning of the day of her visit, it was reported that First Lady Melania arrived to board a plane at Andrews Air Force Base, MD, Thursday, June 21, 2018, to travel to Texas to visit the U.S.-Mexico border. Her plane landed at McAllen Miller International Airport to visit the Ursula Border Patrol Processing Center,… which was opened in 2014 at 3700 W. Ursula Avenue in McAllen, Texas.

The center, better known as “Ursula,” is the most significant immigration processing and detention center run by U.S. Customs and Border Protection enforcement agency. The facility… is made from a former warehouse which was leased by the federal government and modified to be able to hold 1,000 children.

Also, she visited the Upbring New Hope Children’s Center run by the Lutheran Social Services of the South in McAllen. That day, First Lady Melania tweeted:

First Lady Melania Trump pictured at Upbring New Hope Children’s Center run by Lutheran Social Services of the South in McAllen, Texas during her visit on June 21, 2018.

Even the next day, she continued to express the feelings of her experience visiting the migrant children and also advocated for them in a tweet, read below:

For me and for many in this community, the situation of the children is a priority, but the worries and interest we all might have do not match that of Sister Normal Pimentel.

Sister Norma Pimentel
Sister Norma Pimentel

I reached out to her and asked about her opinion of First Lady Melania’s visit, and she wrote: “The visit of our First Lady Melania to the Rio Grande Valley with the purpose of visiting a child’s facility for unaccompanied migrant children was a surprise.

At the same time, it is hopeful to know that with her visit she expressed interest in visiting the innocent Immigrant children separated from their family.

If I had had the opportunity to talk to her that day, I would have liked to ask her to get closer to the children and hear from them their story. For her to ask a child “How are you?” And to be part of that experience which I find transforming when we bring ourselves to encounter the suffering person, especially a child.

Families continue to arrive to our country, in spite of the deterrence policies and difficulties that the Migrant families encounter as they arrive in the U.S.

I think the solution lies in our response to the immigration reality we face in our time. First and foremost, it is important we are part of a solution that stops the suffering of innocent victims who are treated like criminals in their search for safety and protection. Don’t forget the children!  They need our help,” Sr. Norma Pimentel.

First Lady Melania doesn’t forget the children, as a matter of fact, she said it in one of her tweets: “It’s my sincere hope Congress will be able to reach across the aisle & find a solution!”

I hope that in the near future she will be back again, we know that much of her time is focused on many issues affecting children. So, I take this opportunity to invite her to visit the Rio Grande Valley of Texas; she and President Trump are Welcome!

Learn more about First Lady Melania Trump, a Profile about her, and her ‘Be Best’ program information, follow this link.