This week, reports that the Department of Health and Human Services lost track of 1,475 migrant children placed into the care of adult sponsors, as well as news the the Trump administration is breaking up immigrant children from their parents at the border, dropped with a seismic impact. And in response on Friday, Democratic representative Ted Lieu urged Melania Trump to "be best" on immigration, turning her own anti-cyberbullying slogan around on her.
The California congressman, who's made a name for himself since President Donald Trump's election with his frequent tweets attacking the administration, called out the first lady on Friday evening. Specifically, he noted recent reports on the Trump administration's incredibly controversial, widely scrutinized policy of separating immigrant parents and children when they're caught crossing the U.S. border. Lieu somewhat sarcastically remarked that it didn't exactly seem like a "#BeBest policy."
Last month, the first lady announced her initiative against cyberbullying, which is title "Be Best." The effort drew some criticism and incredulity from Democrats and progressives, owing to he husband, the president, having a long history of bullying behavior of his own.
Now, Lieu is turning around that slogan ― "Be Best" ― to point out what countless progressives and immigration advocates have decried as the draconian and inhumane policy of family separation.
Lieu specifically challenged the first lady to do something about the policy, although beyond lobbying her husband, she doesn't have any literal power over the matter. The president himself attempted to distance himself from the family separation policy on Saturday, in a tweet accusing Democrats of being to blame for it; the tweet then descended into an all-caps denunciation of MS-13.
"Put pressure on the Democrats to end the horrible law that separates children from there parents once they cross the Border into the U.S.," the president tweeted out. "Catch and Release, Lottery and Chain must also go with it and we MUST continue building the WALL! DEMOCRATS ARE PROTECTING MS-13 THUGS."
Despite Trump's insistence to the contrary, it's fairly clear from recent reporting that the family separation policy is one his administration has deliberately backed. For months, reports have indicated that top administration officials have pushed for the policy as a means to dissuade illegal border crossings ― in fact, this was reported prior to 2018.
In particular, White House chief of staff John Kelly has defended the policy, claiming in an interviw with NPR that he wouldn't characterize it as "cruel and heartless" idea.
"I wouldn't put it quite that way," Kelly said, according to NPR. "The children will be taken care of — put into foster care or whatever. But the big point is they elected to come illegally into the United States and this is a technique that no one hopes will be used extensively or for very long."
The policy of separating immigrant children from their families, as controversial as it was to begin with, now faces even more intense criticism. That's thanks to the recent revelation that a staggering 1,475 migrant children placed with adult sponsors by the government are now unaccounted for, raising the possibility that some may have ended up in the hands of human traffickers.
Suffice to say, the realization that the government wasn't able to keep track of vulnerable children under its care has created even more criticism of the administration's approach to undocumented border crossings.
The first lady, for her part, hasn't responded to Lieu's social media call-out, although that's not exactly surprising ― since having a reported kidney operation at Walter Reed Medical Center on May 14, she's kept a low-profile, and hasn't been seen publicly since returning to the White House on May 19.