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Ivanka Breaks Silence On Family Separation Debacle — As Trump Backpedals

Ivanka Trump finally broke her silence on President Trump’s unpopular policy of separating immigrant children from parents when she thanked him for signing a controversial executive order allowing immigrant families to be imprisoned together.

The tweet ended days of politically punishing silence on the issue but cryptically seemed to back President Trump’s now-discredited assertion that Congressional action was necessary to end family separation.

The first daughter’s statement also struck a strange chord by remarking that immigrants come to the U.S. “to create a better life for their families” — a far cry from the bellicose rhetoric that her father has used, including his reference to immigrants crossing the border to “infest” America.

Ivanka Trump may hope that her statement will quell critics who say she should have spoken out sooner and more forthrightly against the policy that outraged most of the nation — especially since her portfolio as White House adviser is supposed to focus on women and children.

But the political firestorm that forced President Trump to reverse himself may not go away anytime soon as his executive order faces a certain court challenge — and it’s possible he will seek new provocative ways to please right-wing anti-immigration hardliners.

President Trump dug himself into a deep political hole when he spent days blaming the separation policy on Democrats — a claim that he effectively abandoned when he signed the executive order. He had previously insisted that he could not do anything to change the unpopular policy.

Ivanka, who has sought to portray herself as a moderating force in the White House, faced a rising chorus of criticism for not publicly addressing the plight of immigrant children being taken from their parents and held in detention facilities throughout the country.

Even First Lady Melania Trump spoke out against the policy, though she did not criticize her husband for implementing it.

President Trump dragged Ivanka into the middle of the debate Tuesday night when he reportedly told House Republicans that his daughter, who is Jewish, asked him, “Daddy, what are we doing about this?”

The president’s remarks — and invoking Ivanka’s plea as political cover — were designed to push Republicans to get behind broader immigration bills. That move that was scrapped just hours later when Trump on Wednesday signed the controversial executive order changing the separation policy.

Trump himself seemed to realize that the political danger of videos of kids sitting in cages and an audiotape of wailing children was unsustainable.

“Ivanka feels very strongly. My wife feels very strongly about it. I feel very strongly about it. I think anybody with a heart would feel very strongly about it,” Trump said Wednesday.

Trump’s executive order would end family separation but “indefinitely” detain parents and children together, the New York Times reported. The move appears to violate a longstanding court decree prohibiting immigrant children from being detained for longer than 20 days, NBC News reported.

Democrats have introduced bills in the House and Senate that would bar family separation except in extreme cases, such as if a child was believed to abused or trafficked.

They signaled they would not support broader GOP immigration laws that would bar separation while also enacting a Republican wish list of anti-immigration measures including funding for Trump’s controversial border wall.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said felt “relief” that Trump at least partially reversed his policy.

“I hope and expect that the administration will be able to quickly reunite these children with their parents,” Schumer said in a statement.

“I also hope this represents a turning point and that the president will stop blaming others for problems he creates and start fixing them himself.”

The family separation policy is particularly unpopular with Jews, and Orthodox groups had joined more liberal denominations in demanding it be scrapped.

The only two Jewish Republican members of Congress have had muted responses to the family separation controversy — and have pointedly refused to criticize Trump.

Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York, a fervent Trump supporter, told Newsday that he does not support family separation, though his spokeswoman, Katie Vincentz, also said to the paper it was “hard to take seriously” protesters who she said previously stayed silent on Barack Obama’s immigration policies.

Tennessee Rep. David Kustoff said he would take Trump’s views on pending immigration bills into account, but that he would also be guided by his constituents.

Neither lawmaker returned an immediate request for comment. The Republican Jewish Coalition also did not return an immediate request for comment on what position, if any, they are taking on the bills.

The Republican candidate in New Jersey’s second congressional district, Seth Grossman, oddly tried to connect the issue with school safety in a June 20 Facebook post.

Contact Ben Fractenberg at [email protected] or on Twitter, @fractenberg

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