PALM BEACH — The Red Cross is seeking to avoid political crossfire at Saturday’s International Red Cross Ball at President Donald Trump‘s Mar-a-Lago Club.
The event could help the Red Cross provide assistance to those affected by Trump’s controversial executive order halting refugee admissions and travel from seven nations. Red Cross spokeswoman Jeanne Hamrick said that the organization has received at least one request to help people affected by the travel ban.
“The American Red Cross, when requested by local authorities, will provide basic support to stranded travelers affected by the recent executive order on immigration, including providing food and water at ports of entry; blankets, toiletries and other aid; and health, mental health and spiritual care services,” Hamrick said.
“Our ‘Restoring Family Links’ services are also available to help detainees and stranded travelers who have been separated internationally to reconnect with their loved ones. Our regional leaders are following these issues closely and in close contact with the relevant local authorities. At least one American Red Cross region has received and responded to a formal request for such assistance,” Hamrick said.
Trump is traveling to Palm Beach for the first time as president amid heightened security. He’s expected to attend the Red Cross Ball at his second home, though neither the White House nor the Red Cross have confirmed his attendance.
The ball, started in 1957 by original Mar-a-Lago owner Marjorie Merriweather Post, has traditionally been held at Mar-a-Lago or The Breakers over the last six decades. Trump has attended for most of the last 12 years, but missed last year’s ball while he was on the campaign trail.
“Mr. Trump over the years has been extremely generous to the Red Cross in the use of his facility and his appearances at the event,” said Larry Casey, a former CEO of the Palm Beach regional chapter of the Red Cross.
Now that Trump is president and protesters plan to march nearby, Casey said the political factor puts the organization in a difficult spot.
“The Red Cross is very much a hyper-sensitive, non-political organization that shies away from anything that’s political. So I’m sure they’re doing headstands in Washington over the fact that the Red Cross is being caught in the middle of a political brouhaha,” Casey said.
Hamrick said that the Red Cross is a humanitarian organization that does not engage in “controversies of a political, racial, religious or ideological nature so that we may continue to fulfill our mission and enjoy the confidence of all.”
In response to this year’s planned protests, Hamrick said, “We respect the right of all people to express their views and are thankful to live in a country where such discourse is embraced. We hope these expressions will not hinder the efforts of an impartial humanitarian organization that serves the urgent needs of people at home and around the world.”