America’s Aylan Kurdi moment: Photo of immigrant father with 23-month-old daughter near US-Mexico border evokes global reactions


A photo of an immigrant father lying dead with his  23-month-old daughter on a river bank near the US-Mexico border has shocked the world. The distressing visual has come as a crude reminder of desperate measures immigrants take to enter the US.

US-Mexico border

According to the photographer, who spotted the dead bodies of Oscar Alberto Martínez and his 23-month-old daughter, Angie Valeria, the father-daughter duo died on Sunday while their bodies were discovered on Monday.

Photographer Julia Le Duc wrote the detailed account in Mexican newspaper La Jornada. She said that the pair travelled from El Salvador and had made it to the Texas side of the US initially. CNN quoted her as saying that the father placed his child on the Texas side of the border before returning to get his wife.

However, the little daughter simply could not bear the sight of being separated from her father and she jumped in after her Dad when she saw him swimming away. The father clung to the little girl in red pants and black shoes, but a strong current swept over and drowned them.

When their bodies were discovered, they had reached the Mexican side of the Rio Grande, near Matamoros, across the river from Brownsville. Their heads were wrapped in a black T-shirt with the baby’s tiny right arm draped over her father’s shoulders.

Reacting to the viral photo, US President Donald Trump, who has controversially pushed for erecting a wall at the US-Mexico border, said that he hated the photo. He said, “That father… was probably a wonderful guy.”

The photo has evoked strong reactions from around the world. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Tuesday, “Very regrettable that this would happen. We have always denounced that as there is more rejection in the United States, there are people who lose their lives in the desert or crossing the river.”

A statement from the Vatican said that Pope Francis was ‘profoundly saddened by their death, and is praying for them and for all migrants who have lost their lives while seeking to flee war and misery’ after he saw the photo.

Democratic Presidential hopeful in the US, Kamala Harris tweeted, “These families seeking asylum are often fleeing extreme violence. And what happens when they arrive? Trump says, ‘Go back to where you came from.’ That is inhumane. Children are dying. This is a stain on our moral conscience.”

In a similar story of the refugee crisis in 2015, the photo of a Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi, whose dead body had washed up on a beach in Turkey, had shaken the collective conscience of the international fraternity. Several countries including the UK and Germany had opened their borders for refugees in distress despite governments in these countries having strong policies against immigration.


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