The “zero-tolerance” border security policy implemented by President Donald Trump’s administration has sparked outrage on both sides of the political aisle and took on particular resonance as America celebrated Father’s Day.
Trump has said he wants the separations to end, but continues to blame opposition Democrats for the crisis, which critics say is one of his own making.
His wife, who does not often wade into the political arena, did not denounce his administration’s policy, but instead called for bipartisan immigration reform to fix the issue.
“Mrs Trump hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform,” her spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham told CNN.
“She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart.”
Immigration is one of the most divisive, hot-button crises plaguing the Trump administration.
During one recent six-week period, the government said nearly 2,000 minors were separated from their parents or adult guardians — a figure that only stoked the firestorm.
The number of separations has jumped since early May, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that all migrants illegally crossing the US border with Mexico would be arrested, regardless of whether the adults were seeking asylum.
Since children cannot be sent to the facilities where their parents are held, they are separated.
Some of Trump’s fellow Republicans have said the policy must end.