Ivanka: Family Separations 'a Low Point for Me,' but 'We Are a Country of Laws'

Ivanka Trump delivers remarks on job training during a signing ceremony in the East Room of the White House on July 19, 2018. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/Sipa via AP Images)

WASHINGTON – Senior Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump said she is “very vehemently against” separating children from their parents who are caught illegally crossing the border, but she called on the federal government to be “very careful about incentivizing behavior” that could increase the risk of human trafficking.

She described the controversy around family separation, which has included pushback on the White House and the Trump administration forced to reunify children with their parents under a court-mandated timetable, as “a low point for me.”

“Illegally immigration is incredibly complicated. I am the daughter of an immigrant, my mother grew up in communist Czech Republic, but we are a country of laws. 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,” Trump said during an event organized by Axios on Thursday. “These are not easy issues; these are incredibly difficult issues and, like the rest of the country, I experienced them actually in a very emotional way.”

According to a Fusion investigation conducted in 2014, migrant shelter directors estimated “80 percent of Central American girls and women crossing Mexico en route to the United States are raped along the way.” A 2016 Doctors Without Borders report, “Forced to Flee Central America’s Northern Triangle,” surveyed migrants and used data from clinics to estimate one-third of women were sexually assaulted on the journey.

During the discussion, Trump explained why she recently decided to close her fashion business.

“I am 36 years old, so I have a long life ahead of me and I don’t know what it holds for me. At some point, I will likely return to the private sector, but I don’t have a timetable, and that’s – that was the reason I took the decision that I did last week because it was unfair. It was unfair to my team, 17 months into this, to not be able to say with any certainty that I was coming back within a specified period of time or ever… I did not feel comfortable with that,” she said.

Trump also said it’s “highly unlikely” that she would remain in Washington after serving in the White House, but she is not sure what the future holds at this time.

“I’m really passionate about the work that I’m doing here and I’m really committed to it. I just launched with the president and I’ll be overseeing the National Council for the American Worker,” she said.

“We just last week signed a very important piece of legislation on Perkins [CTE]. I’ve got several other pieces of bipartisan legislation I’m working to get over the finish line – paid family leave, I’m hopeful that we’re able to finally make progress toward passing into law – and many, many other initiatives. That’s where my head is and that’s where my heart is and that’s why I’m here,” she added.

President Trump often refers to the mainstream media as the “fake news media” and the “enemy of the people.” When asked if she thinks the media is the “enemy of the people,” Ivanka Trump relied, “No, I do not.”

She continued, “I can share my own personal perspective. I’ve certainly received my fair share of reporting on me personally that I know not to be fully accurate, so I’ve, you know, had some, I have some sensitivity around why people have concerns and gripe, especially when they sort of feel targeted. But, no, I do not feel that the media is the enemy of the people.”

Trump expressed support for the administration’s tariffs on steel, aluminum and other products, saying that American steelworkers and farmers understand that the president is on their side.

“They’re patriots and they know that there’s some temporary pain, but that the president’s fighting for them and that he’s going to fix it and that long-term they’re going to thrive. And I think you see that,” she said. “At some point, you do have to right the ship and we’re not looking to create an uneven playing field for other countries. We’re looking for fair and reciprocal trade deals.”

When asked for her message to workers in industries that rely on steel imports, she replied, “There’s a national security aspect to steel as well.”