WASHINGTON – Ivanka Trump said Thursday the family separation policy pursued by her father's administration was a "low point" of her government service.
"That was a low point for me, as well. I feel very strongly about that," the White House adviser said at an Axios event in Washington. "And I am very vehemently against family separation and the separation of parents and children."
More than 2,500 children were separated from their parents after they crossed the border into the U.S. as a result of a "zero tolerance" policy announced by the Trump administration in April.
President Donald Trump signed an executive order to end the policy in June amid public outcry over the practice. Many of the children have been reunited with their parents after a judge ordered swift reunifications, but hundreds remain separated. Several hundred parents have been deported without their children.
Ivanka Trump did not speak out publicly against her father's policy while it was in place for several weeks. After the president signed an executive order to reverse it, she sent out a tweet congratulating him.
"Thank you POTUS for taking critical action ending family separation at our border," she tweeted on June 20. "Congress must now act + find a lasting solution that is consistent with our shared values; the same values that so many come here seeking as they endeavor to create a better life for their families."
A Trump administration official said Tuesday that he warned for months about the potential for harm to migrant children if they were separated from their parents before the administration launched its "zero tolerance" border policy earlier this year.
"There is no question that separation of children from parents entails significant potential for traumatic psychological injury to the child," Commander Jonathan White, a Health and Human Services official who led the agency's family reunification efforts, told the Senate Judiciary Committee at Congress' first hearing on the separations of thousands of families at the border.
Ivanka Trump said that she understood the need to secure the U.S. borders and not incentivize illegal immigration, which can involve dangerous journeys for children.
"Immigration is incredibly complex," she said. "I am a daughter of an immigrant. My mother grew up in communist Czech Republic. But we are a country of laws."
During the Axios event, Ivanka Trump also contradicted her father by saying she disagreed with his branding of the media as the "enemy of the people."
"No, I do not feel the press is the enemy of the people," she said.