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Melania Trump greeted by protesters while visiting babies in Boston hospital

First Lady Melania Trump’s visit to the Boston Medical Center on Wednesday sparked protests by employees at the hospital who disagree with President Trump’s immigration policies.

The visit: Trump, along with joined by Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, went to Boston to visit the cuddle program in the hospital and highlight her “Be Best” initiative that focuses on the health and wellness of children. The program, among other things, was developed to help nurture babies born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, as a result of mothers who abused alcohol or drugs.

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“It is so important to acknowledge and show gratitude for what you are doing. I hope today’s visit helps to shine a light on how programs like your cuddling assist in lowering maternal and infant stress,” said Trump. She later toured the hospital, talked to staff, patients, and took photos, according to a hospital spokesperson.

“Mrs. Trump enjoyed visiting Boston Medical Center to meet with the center’s leadership and medical staff and learn about the impressive programs available that support and provide care to mothers struggling with drug addiction and babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome,” said President Trump’s press secretary Stephanie Grisham.

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The protest: Employees and others gathered to protest the visit with signs reading: “We Care for All!” and “Exceptional Care, No Exceptions!” At least two people were spotted wearing white lab coats that had a “We really care, do u?” message handwritten on them, a reference to the first lady’s notorious “I Really Don’t Care. Do U?” jacket she wore last year during a visit to a Texas immigration detention center.

Other signs included “We care for all families,” “Our BMC cares for all patients,” and “Children in cages can’t be cuddled.”

The goal of the protest, according to demonstrators, was to show support for patients who live illegally in the US. According to the hospital website, 30% of its patients are illegal immigrants.

“She’s married to Donald Trump, and he is such a symbol of so much of what we stand against. He “has done more than anyone I can think of in modern times to work against what BMC holds as its core principles. . . . And so, while I’m really glad that she is learning about opioid-exposed children, we are here to send a message not to her, but to our community and to our patients, that we are here to provide a safe place for them, and that we are not allied with her and her husband’s messages,” protester Dr. Sara Stulac told the Boston Globe.

Efforts to cancel the visit: Around 250 employees signed a letter asking Boston Medical Center’s president and CEO Kate Walsh to scrub her visit, citing the president’s immigration policies and how patients would view the hospital for aligning itself with members of the Trump administration. Walsh, in an email to 6,000 employees, argued that “the visit will be a unique opportunity to share our values of respect and inclusion with federal leaders whose policies have a significant impact on the vulnerable populations we are dedicated to serving.”

“Two-thirds of our patients have some form of government insurance, and our health plan is the largest participant in the state’s Medicaid accountable care organization, so the opportunity to highlight the innovative work we are doing is critical to ensuring that we are able to continue to deliver on our mission well into the future,” she added.

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(Photo credit: Marc Nozell)