The first daughter has made her opinion on her father's strategies on immigration from Mexico known, after relative silence on this particular issue. In a Wednesday interview on Good Morning America, Ivanka Trump commented on border policy — and specifically on her father's allowance of lethal force, if need be.
ABC's Deborah Roberts brought up the thousands of Central American migrants who are currently waiting to seek asylum in the United States after traveling to the Tijuana border in caravans. The president condemned these groups in the run-up to the midterm election and is still intensely opposing their entry into the country. In her Wednesday interview, Roberts asked the first daughter, "Your father has authorized lethal force, he says, if necessary. Does that concern you?"
"I don't believe that's what he said," she began, "but his primary goal as commander in chief is obviously to protect the nation's borders. He has to protect our nation's security. Lethal force, in this case... that is not, I think, something that anyone's talking about."
Roberts countered Trump's remarks by showing her the president's statements from last Thursday, when he did, in fact, say, "If they have to, they're going to use lethal force. I've given the OK." White House Chief of Staff John Kelly had previously ordered that U.S. troops could use that option if their safety was threatened, but the legality of his decree was questioned by many.
The first daughter paused while digesting this new information. "So... lethal force, under any circumstance, would be a last resort," she told Roberts. "But he's the commander in chief of the armed forces in this country, so he always has to be able to protect the border."
Trump added, "He's not talking about innocent asylum seekers."
She also defended her father when asked about the use of tear gas against migrant families on Sunday. (The Geneva Convention outlawed the use of tear gas in wartime, but the agent is allowed as a response to domestic turmoil like riots.) When asked about photos of the gas deployment, Trump told Roberts, "I think, like any other person with a heart, it's devastating to see the images and seeing children put at risk." But she added that "there are people in the caravan who are not so innocent" and that her father "has to protect our country's security."
The president has made the same argument to undermine the caravan's legitimacy. "You're dealing with a minimum of 500 serious criminals," he told reporters on Thursday, per CNN, as well as "rough people." His daughter continued to emphasize this point on Good Morning America, saying, "No one can now look at the situation we have with the caravans and say that our border is not in crisis. It is."
But others have argued that the caravans don't inherently constitute a "crisis." As Elizabeth Oglesby pointed out in The Hill, the Central Americans waiting in Tijuana are attempting to legally seek asylum, not breach the border (though, faced with extraordinarily long waits — the government has slowed asylum processing down to a trickle while people wait in tough conditions — some have attempted to cross illegally). They traveled in large caravans to keep themselves safe, not to threaten the United States.
The U.N. Refugee Agency has estimated that as many as 7,000 people have journeyed to the border with the caravans, while The New York Times reports that the number could swell to as much as 10,000. It seems possible that more violence will erupt if a solution for these asylum seekers — thousands of whom are children — is not found.