emergency blanket

Fred Romero/Flickr (CC-BY)

Ivanka Trump’s dress is once again being compared to emergency blankets given to immigrants

These blankets are making more than a fashion statement.


David Britton

Internet Culture

Published Jun 19, 2018   Updated May 21, 2021, 1:08 pm CDT

Images of immigrant children being separated from their parents have caused shock and horror since President Donald Trump’s new “Zero Tolerance” policy took effect. One particular photo shows the children sleeping in a large cage while covered in foil blankets.

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You might recognize the blankets. They are same thermal blankets many people carry in their cars or on camping trips in case of an emergency.

But writer Orli Matlow recognized them from someplace else. The blankets look strikingly similar to a dress worn by Ivanka Trump back in January of 2017.

“Who wore it better,” tweeted Matlow. “Children detained in McAllen, Texas or Ivanka Trump.”

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The tweet makes a brutal point, and it got a huge boost when it was retweeted by actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

Many people saw both the sadness and humor of the tweet.



But Trump supporters echoed chairman of the American Conservative Union Matt Schlapp, who on a June 15 broadcast of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom, claimed that this detention was “the same way Barack Obama did it.”

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Donald Trump has made similar claims, saying that it was legislation passed by Democrats that led to families being separated at the border.

But both Snopes and Politifact rated these claims as false.

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According to the Snopes report:

There is no federal law that stipulates that children and parents be separated at the border, no matter how families entered the United States. An increase in child detainees separated from parents stemmed directly from a change in enforcement policy repeatedly announced by [Attorney General] Sessions in April and May 2018, under which adults (with or without children) are criminally prosecuted for attempting to enter the United States:

And while children were occasionally detained separately from their parents during the Obama administration, it was both a much rarer occurrence, and the time of separation was usually far briefer.

“Obama generally refrained from prosecution in cases involving adults who crossed the border with their kids,” Peter Margulies, an immigration law and national security law professor at Roger Williams University School of Law told Politifact. “In contrast, the current administration has chosen to prosecute adult border-crossers, even when they have kids. That’s a choice — one fundamentally different from the choice made by both Obama and previous presidents of both parties.”

It’s also worth noting that this isn’t the first time the Ivanka Trump dress/emergency blanket comparison has been made. In fact, someone called out the similarity way back when the dress picture was first posted. At that the time, the comparison was used to protest President Trump’s executive order blocking immigration and travel from seven Muslim-majority countries.

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It seems like Ivanka’s dress is going to be trotted out any time her father starts a humanitarian crisis. If he wants to spare his daughter future embarrassment, Trump might consider either switching over to fleece blankets or being an empathetic person.

The smart money is on new blankets.


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*First Published: Jun 19, 2018, 1:39 pm CDT