First Lady Melania Trump (FLOTUS) recently announced a new initiative as part of her “BE BEST” campaign to “improve the lives of children.” However, her plan noticeably does not mention efforts to improve conditions children in immigrant detention centers are having to endure.
According to a White House press release outlining the plan, FLOTUS would install 21 “BE BEST” ambassadors in various government agencies who would be tasked with “educating children and parents about the issues they face, and promoting programs and services available to help them with today’s challenges.” The press release didn’t detail any specific policies that would be advanced, though the release did announce that FLOTUS wanted to promote “the well-being of children, online safety, and combatting opioid abuse.”
Since the announcement of BE BEST, the First Lady has collaborated with numerous departments and agencies to advance each of the three BE BEST pillars – the well-being of children, online safety, and combatting opioid abuse. Over the past two years Mrs. Trump has carried her BE BEST message—one of hope and empowerment—to children and families in the United States and around the world, including her first solo trip to Africa with USAID to visit the beautiful countries of Ghana, Malawi, Kenya and Egypt.
The new proposal from FLOTUS comes at a time when the Trump administration is facing widespread criticism for its treatment of child detainees at various immigrant detention centers in and around the southern border.
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) ignited a national debate about the use of the term “concentration camps” to describe the conditions undocumented detainees are facing, and roughly a week later, the administration defended making immigrant children sleep on concrete floors in cold, overcrowded cells while not even providing soap and toothbrushes. The term “concentration camp” is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as “a place where large numbers of people, especially political prisoners or members of persecuted minorities, are deliberately imprisoned in a relatively small area with inadequate facilities.”
Last week, the Associated Press reported on some of the conditions immigrant children are facing while in U.S. custody. A legal aid group that interviewed several dozen child detainees found that many of the children were not given medical care, fed frozen uncooked food, and forced to go for weeks without bathing or having a change of clothes.
Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.