US First Lady Melania Trump has expressed concern over a controversial policy that separates families who illegally enter the country.
Mrs Trump “hates to see children separated from their families” and wants to see “successful immigration reform”, her spokeswoman said.
Her comments follow growing controversy over President Donald Trump’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy.
Former First Lady Laura Bush also spoke out, labelling the policy “immoral”.
In a recent six-week period there were nearly 2,000 family separations following a crackdown on illegal border crossings.
Adults who try to cross the border, many planning to seek asylum, are placed in custody and face criminal prosecution for illegal entry.
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As a result, hundreds of minors are now being housed in detention centres, and kept away from their parents – a policy which rights groups have criticised as unprecedented.
In her comments, Mrs Trump said she “hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides of the aisle [Republicans and Democrats in Congress] can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform”.
“We need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart,” her statement added.
Laura Bush, wife of the former Republican President George W Bush, went further and launched an outspoken attack on the policy.
“This zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart,” she wrote in the Washington Post .
“Our government should not be in the business of warehousing children in converted box stores or making plans to place them in tent cities in the desert.”
“These images are eerily reminiscent of the Japanese American internment camps of World War Two , now considered to have been one of the most shameful episodes in US history,” she added.