WASHINGTON — Ivanka Trump on Thursday cited the separation of migrant children from their parents as a low point of her White House tenure. She said she was “vehemently against family separation” but noted that immigration was “incredibly complex as a topic.”
The senior White House adviser also said she doesn’t view the news media as “the enemy of the people,” breaking with one of her father’s frequent attacks on the press. President Donald Trump sought later to downplay the distance, tweeting that his daughter answered correctly and that “It is the FAKE NEWS, which is a large percentage of the media, that is the enemy of the people!”
The president dropped the immigration policy more than a month ago after widespread condemnation from Democrats and Republicans. Ivanka Trump remained quiet publicly in the early days of the border crisis, but the president said she privately urged him to find a solution. She tweeted her thanks after he signed an executive order designed to keep families together.
During an event Thursday hosted by the news website Axios, Ivanka Trump was asked about the high point and low point of her time in the White House. When the moderator asked if the separation of migrant children from detained families was a low, she agreed.
Noting that her mother was an immigrant who came to the United States legally, Ivanka Trump said this was a “country of laws.” She added: “We have to be very careful about incentivizing behavior that puts children at risk of being trafficked, risk of entering this country with coyotes or making an incredibly dangerous journey alone.”
But she said she felt “very strongly” about the issue.
“I am very vehemently against family separation and the separation of parents and children,” she said.
Asked about the comments, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president had said “that he doesn’t like the idea of family separation. I don’t think anybody does.”
Sanders added: “We also don’t like the idea of open borders. We don’t like the idea of allowing people into our country if we don’t know who they are, where they are going and why they’re coming. The president wants to secure our borders, which is why he has asked Congress to fix the law.”
On high points for the administration, Ivanka Trump cited the president commuting the sentence of Alice Johnson, a woman who was serving a life sentence for drug offenses and whose case had been championed by reality television star Kim Kardashian West. She called Johnson leaving prison “one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.”
Asked if she agreed with the description of the press frequently invoked by her father, Ivanka Trump said, “No, I don’t.”