Americans can be forgiven for questioning whether they’re reading bona fide news articles or satire in the age of President Donald Trump, as reality often reads like a story straight from The Onion.
And Friday gave social media users yet another opportunity to double-take when a short transcript from the American Civil Liberty Union’s lawsuit against the federal government went viral.
The Trump administration asked for an extension on the time frame it was given to reunite migrant children under the age of 5 with their parents – that deadline arrives next week – and in the course of the hearing, an interesting bit of dialogue transpired.
One moment from a status conference in the ACLU’s lawsuit on behalf of families that had been separated by the Trump administration went a bit viral on Friday. It occurred when a government attorney mentioned that she had dogsitting responsibilities in Colorado after both lawyers were reportedly asked by the judge where they would be for the weekend.
As Slate noted, the dog-sitting situation had no serious impact on the case, but Friday’s proceedings did grant some new and troubling information regarding the Trump administration’s handling of the migrant children crisis.
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the hearing on Friday was the number of parents who the government has been unable to find after taking their very young children.
The Department of Justice attorney, Sarah Fabian, said the government had identified 101 children younger than 5 who might fall within the judge’s order. Two parents of those children, the government argues, have criminal records that render them unfit to be reunited with their children. Fabian said 19 parents had been released from custody into the United States and 19 had been deported. The government does not know where at least some of these parents are.
The Courthouse News Service reported that there are “86 parents who have been in contact with 83 children under 5 who are in federal custody.” These numbers indicate that roughly 16 children have not had contact with their parents, who may be missing following deportations or release into the United States.
This raises the terrifying possibility that 16 children younger than 5 may never see their parents again because of Trump’s unconstitutional child separation practices. The ACLU has promised to do everything it can to ensure that doesn’t happen, but that outcome will depend greatly on how adept the administration is at undoing some of the damage it has already done.
It remains to be seen if Judge Dana Sabraw will grant the government an extension -- due to Fabian's dog-sitting responsibilities, the decision will not come before Monday.