No, Ivanka Trump Did Not Break With Her Dad’s Family Separation Policy

A closer look at the first daughter’s remarks show she’s willing to defend—and even support—it.

Liu Jie/ZUMA

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Following months of tension and creating frustration both in the White House and the media, Ivanka Trump has signaled she is ready to return to the public stage as first daughter and senior adviser to the president. But her most recent attempt to step back into the limelight seems to demonstrate that Ivanka’s return to public life isn’t likely to bring any moderation to the Trump White House.

During a Thursday morning interview with Axios, the topic of the Trump administration’s policy of separating migrant families at the border was broached. Initially, it appeared that Ivanka’s stance differed from her father’s, once more feeding into the illusion that she was a voice of humanity in the administration. But her statement immediately called into question whether Ivanka grasped the timeline of the controversial policy, as hundreds of children remain separated from their families due to the government’s failure to comply with a federal judge’s order to reunify all migrant families. 

“That was a low point for me as well,” Ivanka said, referring to her father’s immigration policy as a thing of the past. “I felt very strongly about that, and I am very vehemently against family separation and the separation of parents and children.”

She then echoed troubling statements from top administration officials—who have defended the policy as a deterrent—and emphasized that the United States is a country of law and order. The first daughter also made sure to differentiate her mother’s immigration to the United States in the 1980s as legal, in contrast to today’s migrants’ efforts to enter the country to escape violence. The Trump family has used an identical explanation to defend charges of hypocrisy when Melania Trump’s immigration to the United States is questioned. 

“I am the daughter of an immigrant, my mother grew up in communist Czech Republic, but we are a country of laws,” Ivanka said on Thursday. “She came to this country legally, and we have to be very careful about incentivizing behavior that puts children at risk of being trafficked, at risk of entering this country with coyotes or making an incredibly dangerous journey alone.”

Despite the contradictory remarks, many headlines on Thursday repeated Ivanka’s purported disappointment with her father’s policy. But a closer look reveals the first daughter is willing to defend and perhaps even support it.

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This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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