The first daughter called the family separation crisis a ‘low point’
Over the last month, Ivanka Trump announced the long-awaited closure of her fashion label, has endured mounting Javanka controversy within the Trump administration and painstakingly admitted in an interview with Axios on Thursday that the family separation crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border “was a low point” for her. “These are incredibly difficult issues,” she said. “I am vehemently against family separation. And like the rest of the country, I experienced them in a very emotional way.” Was. Past tense? Ivanka...
The facts bite. According to government statistics, cited by CNN last week, at the time of Trump’s Axios interview there were still 700 children held in government custody at the border. Children as young as toddlers are, to this day, reportedly being kept in conditions akin to prison following a change in the USA’s immigration policy.
It might have been a ‘low’ month for Ivanka, but not as horrific as it has been for those families torn apart. An estimated 400 parents have been deported without their children; the devastation is major and it’s real. As the White House Senior Advisor snuggled-up, nose to nose with her two-year-old son Theodore on Instagram, thousands of families were – and at least hundreds still are – living out their worst nightmares. So no, Ivanka. It wasn’t a low point; it’s a harrowing ongoing crisis and you’re airbrushing over it.
Luckily, the internet just won’t have it: #DearIvanka is back. On Tuesday, film director Paola Mendoza, actor Sarah Sophie Flicker and journalist Alyssa Klein kick-started a campaign that was then galvanised by Girlboss co-founder and CEO Sophia Amoruso. In an Instagram post that received 50,000 likes at the time of publishing, Sophia’s image containing an open letter called Trump out, demanding that she call for the resignation of Secretary Nielsen, who has overseen the separation scandal. It reads,
You follow me on social media. You said family separation was a ‘low point’ for you. The low point is for the separated families. You spoke in past tense. The crisis is ongoing.
As of now, 572 children have not been reunited. A child has died after separation. Approximately 400 parents have been deported without their children. There have been multiple claims of sexual and physical abuse in detention. There have been psychotropic drugs administered to children in detention without parental consent.
These abuses have occured on your father’s watch and under the leadership of Secretary Nielsen. End these racist, inhumane and unconscionable abuses now!
We demand you call for the resignation of Secretary Nielsen.”
#DearIvanka was first used by Sophia Amoruso, and regrammed by swathes of celebrities, in November 2017 – it was a call to action for her to support The Dream Act. This time round, Amoruso’s post was a repackaged version of an image deployed by activists this week regarding the separation crisis, redesigned to be easily shareable by her Girlboss team. In an email exchange, Amoruso tells Dazed, “Sarah Sophie Flicker kindly brought to my attention that Ivanka follows me on Instagram, and that I had the opportunity reach her directly and use my platform to draw attention to an issue that's so emotionally fraught.”
Since posting the image to her 612k followers, tagging Trump, it has received hundreds of regrams and hundreds of thousands of accumulative likes and comments. Many simply tag @ivankatrump, so her tagged Instagram feed has become a breeding ground for infinity more powder blue #DearIvankas. Amy Schumer (7.1M followers), Alexa Chung (3M), Poppy Delevigne (1.3M), Coveteur (1.1M) and many more prolifically-followed influencers have shared the letter on their own pages. There is no conceivable way she hasn’t seen it.
There is weight in the fact that the letter uses Trump’s own words to discredit her; they don’t stack up against government statistics. But her wishy-washy admission of wrongdoing by the Trump administration is a guise glossing over the ongoing crisis, pushing this scandal into the corner with dusty old news. “I'm not one for hashtag activism as a standalone means of change-making,” Amoruso says, “but if I can use my platform to help remind people that this story isn't over, that many of these children are still apart from their parents, then I should do that. It's keeping an issue that could easily fall out of the news cycle front of mind of people who likely care and want to use their own voices to make change.”
“Tearing apart families and showing a disregard for the wellbeing of children are things we should all be able to agree are unacceptable,” she says. “And if Ivanka has been affected by these things in the same way I have and so many others have, then she should call for the resignation of Secretary Nielson, just like the letter demands. In the corporate world, when huge failures of judgement and black marks on your brand’s reputation arise from your leadership, you are normally asked to resign. At the very least, that should resonate with the president, who purports to conduct himself like a shrewd businessman. So, it should be an easy choice to make a change here.”
“It’s keeping an issue that could easily fall out of the news cycle front of mind of people who likely care and want to use their own voices to make change” – Sophia Amoruso
Thus far, Ivanka Trump has not responded to the letter, and neither has she unfollowed any of the major celebrities posting it. Whilst in Thursday’s Axios interview Trump said, through rehearsed, emotionally charged pauses that she is “vehemently against the separation of children,” what has she actually done? What will she actually do? Her half-hearted criticism of her father’s administration is simply not enough. If anything, it highlights her contradictions; this is a mother of three, who describes herself chiefly on Instagram as ‘Wife, mother, sister, daughter,’ and who is arguably the most powerful influence to POTUS, who won’t take real action to ensure that this separation crisis stops now. It’s throwing further fuel to the fires closing in on her in Washington as she continues to fail in practising what she preaches.
All considered, it’s not unfair to ask the question (and, after all, Melania’s jacket spelled it out on her part last month) does Ivanka even care? “I hope she does,” says Amoruso. “The easiest way for her to show that is to use her position of influence to guide policy change through her father's administration.”
So, Ivanka. Tough month. But these abuses have happened under your father’s watch, so what will you do? Over to you.