Melania Trump declared on Twitter Friday that she would keep fighting for “children’s well-being everywhere” this year — and furious critics pointed to caged children and kids separated from their immigrant parents by the Trump administration.
The first lady tweeted three issues she plans to “continue” to work on in 2019, including children’s welfare, “online safety” and fighting “abuse” of addictive opioids. She notably dropped the “anti-bullying” aspect in her tweet of her “Be Best” campaign, possibly because she has been attacked for failing to stop President Donald Trump from insulting critics and calling them names in demeaning tweets.
It wasn’t immediately clear what work the first lady was referring to. The tweet shows her strolling alone at the White House. She has been filmed greeting school groups and hosting events for children at the White House, and she visited a detention center for immigrant children last summer after she wore a controversial jacket reading: “I really don’t care, do you?”
A report issued this month by the inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services determined that thousands more migrant children were separated from their parents than had been previously reported by the Trump administration. Whether or not they have been reunited with their parents is unknown, according to the report. Experts have warned of the lasting trauma suffered by children separated from their parents. Two young immigrant children have died in federal custody.
Trump’s reference to the epidemic of fatal opioid overdoses in the nation as “abuse” was an unusual word choice in the wake of harsh criticism of pill manufacturers accused of underplaying the harmful addictive nature of their products. The Massachusetts attorney general has sued Purdue Pharma and members of the Sackler family who own the company, alleging that they are “personally responsible” for deceptively selling highly addictive OxyContin.
Trump has visited hospitals treating children of opioid-addicted mothers and in 2017 hosted a roundtable on the issue at the White House. But Gary Mendell, founder of a nonprofit organization combating addiction, told The Washington Post late last year that neither the first lady nor the president have “been out there leading the charge” against the problem. “Half the country thinks this is bad people doing bad things, instead of good people who have a chronic disease,” he said, adding that the first lady could impact the issue.
But it was the first lady’s avowed commitment to children that drew the most ire on Twitter.