Amid a news cycle dominated by the day-to-day chaos, antics, and scandals of the Trump presidency, new government numbers released on Thursday offered a grim reminder that the humanitarian travesty sparked by President Donald Trump's inhumane family separation policy is still ongoing, despite the fact that it has faded into the background of corporate news coverage.
"The numbers are horrible—and it's so important to remember that it's not just numbers: it's kids, torn away from their parents by Trump's cruel policy and put in cages."
—Andrew Stroehlein of Human Rights Watch
In court filings on Thursday, lawyers for the Trump Justice Department said that 565 immigrant children remain separated from their parents and held in detention facilities more than three weeks after the court-mandated deadline for reunification.
While immigrant rights activists and advocacy groups have continued calling attention to the crisis and working tirelessly to ensure that every child is ultimately reunited with their families, much of the media "has largely moved on, worn out and dazzled by other outrages," observed Toronto Star columnist Bruce Arthur.
As Judd Legum noted in his Popular Information newsletter this week, "the Trump administration has been able to get away with its disinterested approach to reunification by taking advantage of the short attention spans of the public and the media."
"This week, for example, the focus has been on a new book in which a former White House aide, Omarosa Manigault, claims that Trump is a racist. As proof, she claims there is a secret tape of Trump using the n-word on The Apprentice," Legum notes. "Interest in the Omarosa story far exceeds interest in the child separation story, even at its June peak. This week, despite hundreds of kids still in limbo, child separation barely registers."
Legum goes on to point to a Google Trends chart showing levels of interest in the children separated from their parents by the Trump administration's so-called zero tolerance policy—which a 99-year-old Nuremberg prosecutor called "a crime against humanity"—compared to interest in the Omarosa story.
As the Huffington Post reported on Thursday, "number of kids who have been reunited in the last couple of weeks can be counted on two hands."
Two weeks ago, the Trump administration said that 572 children were still separated from their parents, which is just seven more than the number reported by the Justice Department on Thursday.
"The numbers are horrible—and it's so important to remember that it's not just numbers: it's kids, torn away from their parents by Trump's cruel policy and put in cages," Andrew Stroehlein of Human Rights Watch wrote in response to the Trump administration's court filings. "U.S. taxpayers have been funding this torture of children and are rightly outraged."