Melania Trump sparked fierce criticism on Thursday after wearing a jacket with the words “I REALLY DON’T CARE DO U” emblazoned on the back during a visit to a facility for detaining child immigrants.
The First Lady used the visit to say she wanted to reunite children with their families “as quickly as possible” following her husband’s dramatic policy U-turn around the treatment of illegal immigrants.
But the trip was somewhat undermined by her questionable choice of clothing.
She wore the green hooded spring military jacket with the graffiti-style words on the back when boarding the plane to the facility but had changed into a different pale yellow one when the plane landed in McAllen, Texas.
When asked what message the first lady's jacket intended to send, spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said: "It's a jacket. There was no hidden message."
But commentators pointed out that, with a team of staff helping her to plan her every move, the choice of clothing should have been picked up before it was caught on camera.
"Melania Trump has absolutely no excuse for this! This is either severe ignorance or she's just as bad as her husband!," one US reporter wrote.
The First Lady is believed to have played a crucial role in persuading her husband to reverse his highly controversial policy of ordering border officials to separate children from their parents.
And, a day after President Trump signed the executive order keeping illegal immigrant families together, she flew from Washington to Texas to visit the facility holding some of the 2,000 children already taken away from their parents.
Whilst at the centre she made a rare public speech in which she said: “We all know that the children here have been separated from their families.
"I'd like to ask you how I can help these children to reunite with their families as quickly as possible.”
She also thanked staff “for your heroic work that you do every day and what you do for those children".
Today’s visit w the children in Texas impacted @flotus greatly. If media would spend their time & energy on her actions & efforts to help kids - rather than speculate & focus on her wardrobe - we could get so much accomplished on behalf of children. #SheCares #ItsJustAJacket— Stephanie Grisham (@StephGrisham45) June 21, 2018
The visit was supposed to be a damage-control trip which came after video footage of children sitting in cages and an audiotape of wailing children sparked anger about the treatment of minors at the US border.
Mrs Trump's spokeswoman added: "Today’s visit w the children in Texas impacted @flotus greatly.
"If media would spend their time & energy on her actions & efforts to help kids - rather than speculate & focus on her wardrobe - we could get so much accomplished on behalf of children. #SheCares #ItsJustAJacket"
In April, Trump's administration adopted a "zero-tolerance" policy, choosing to prosecute such crossings as crimes, meaning that any minors accompanying that person were taken away.
The policy was seen by the administration as a deterrent for illegal immigrants attempting to cross the border unauthorised, but it was condemned globally after upsetting images emerged of young children crying as their parents were taken away.
When the President reversed his policy, he largely credited his wife and daughter for their influence.
“Ivanka feels very strongly, my wife feels very strongly about it, I feel very strongly about it,” the President said. “I think anybody with a heart would feel very strongly about it. We don't like to see families separated.”
Mrs Trump’s trip to Texas is the most high-profile public appearance Mrs. Trump had made since undergoing a surgical procedure for a benign kidney condition on May 14.
She met with officials and employees at the facility where 55 children ages 12 to 17 are housed. Six of them were separated from their parents upon crossing the border, authorities told reporters.
Mrs. Trump sat at a table at Upbring New Hope Children's Center and heard caregivers explain how the children are well treated. She asked many questions, seeking assurances that they are being properly cared for.
Later, she toured a section of the facility where the children have bedrooms and was told they maintain their own rooms.
She visited a schoolroom at Upbring and chatted with about 20 young girls and boys who had school folders on their desks. She spoke to many individually through a translator, and as she walked out she told them: "Be kind and nice to each other, OK? Nice to meet you."
In one classroom, children were being taught about the July Fourth Independence Day holiday. On the wall was a handpainted American flag and the children signed it. The first lady signed it as well.