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Jacket Message Overshadows First Lady's Visit to Migrant Children


First lady Melania Trump arrives at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., June 21, 2018, after visiting the Upbring New Hope Children Center in McAllen, Texas. The first lady's team insisted that there was no hidden meaning behind the wording on the back of her jacket: "I really don't care. Do U?"

A controversial clothing choice is overshadowing a surprise visit by U.S. first lady Melania Trump to a Texas facility to meet immigrant children separated from their families because of her husband's "zero-tolerance" immigration policy.

WATCH: First Lady Visits Detention Center; Outrage Over Treatment of Immigrants Remains

First Lady Visits Detention Center; Outrage Over Treatment of Immigrants Remains
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Boarding a U.S. Air Force jet at and returning to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on Thursday, the first lady was spotted wearing an olive green jacket. The back of the jacket read "I really don't care. Do U?" in white graffiti-style lettering.

The first lady's team insisted that there was no hidden meaning behind the sartorial choice.

"It's a jacket. There was no hidden message. After today's important visit to Texas, I hope the media isn't going to choose to focus on her wardrobe," said her communications director, Stephanie Grisham.

President Donald Trump, however, contradicted the assertion there was no message conveyed by his wife's choice of apparel.

Trump, in a tweet, said what was written on the back of the jacket "refers to the Fake News Media. Melania has learned how dishonest they are, and she truly no longer cares!"

Television news channels brought pundits in the studio to discuss the meaning conveyed by the jacket.

First lady Melania Trump signs an American Flag while visiting the Upbring New Hope Children Center run by the Lutheran Social Services of the South in McAllen, Texas, June 21, 2018.
First lady Melania Trump signs an American Flag while visiting the Upbring New Hope Children Center run by the Lutheran Social Services of the South in McAllen, Texas, June 21, 2018.

"I think she may have had an audience of one in mind — her husband," said USA Today newspaper Washington bureau chief Susan Page, who has covered six presidential administrations, appearing on MSNBC.

"I think it was Melania giving the middle finger to the media," Kate Anderson Brower, author of First Women: The Grace & Power of America's Modern First Ladies, told VOA. "But someone should have told her that it could also be read that she doesn't care about the children, which is clearly not the case."

Fashion bloggers quickly identified the jacket as one selling for $39 by Zara, a fast fashion global retailer.

It was a relatively humble selection by Trump, a former Paris runway model who is frequently clad for public appearances in haute couture dresses and coats.

That has many observers doubting the choice was accidental and wondering whether the first lady's staff members may have tried to dissuade her from wearing the army-style jacket, especially considering it was a hot and humid day.

"She has a very small staff and she's very stubborn, so this story is distracting from what she did, which was actually very good," Brower said.

WATCH: Melania Trump at Texas facility

Melania Trump Visits Immigrant Detention Facility in Texas
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Trump's visit Thursday to the Upbring New Hope Children's Center occurred a day after her husband signed an executive order halting the practice of separating migrant families who have entered the country illegally.

The first lady expressed concern about the physical and mental well-being of the children during her visit to the McAllen, Texas, facility.

"How I can help ... these children to reunite with their families as quickly as possible?" she asked the staff.

The center currently houses 55 immigrant children between the ages of 12 and 17, although it is licensed to care for children as young as 6.

Trump thanked the staff at the center for "your hard work, your compassion and your kindness you are giving to them in these difficult times."

WATCH: Melania Trump ask how often children speak to family

Melania Trump Asks How Often Separated Immigrant Children Speak to Relatives
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The trip was intended to lend support to some of the more than 2,300 children who remain separated from their parents. In addition to her meetings with staff and children, the first lady also was briefed on the children's medical care by nursing staff.

Melania Trump first spoke out against separation at the border on Sunday, saying that she "hates" seeing children taken away from their parents.

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