Haunting photo of migrant girl clinging to dad after both drowned swimming to US

This heartbreaking photo shows a dead migrant girl clinging to her dad's lifeless body after they both drowned trying to reach the US for a better life.

The image of Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez and his 23-month-old daughter Valeria lying face down in a muddy river on the US-Mexico border has caused shock and outrage.

Valeria's head is tucked inside her father's black T-shirt and her arm is draped over his neck after they died in front of Tania Vanessa Avalos, the girl's mum and Mr Martinez's wife.

The photo underscores the dangers that many migrants face as they risk their lives to try to cross into America, and it points to the growing crisis at the border where Donald Trump's administration is trying to keep desperate asylum seekers out.

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke, from the border city of El Paso, Texas, tweeted: "Trump is responsible for these deaths."


Mr Martinez's mother has told how she begged her son "not to pursue the American dream" before the young family set off on a preilous 1,400-mile journey to flee poverty.

But the father was determined to move his family to the US, where he hoped to find a job to support them, one day buy a house and provide a better future for his daughter, his mum said.

Mr Martinez, 25, Ms Avalos, 21, and Valeria were from El Salvador and had finally made it to the US-Mexico border, where the father and daughter died on the banks of the Rio Grande on Sunday.

The family had arrived last weekend in the border city of Matamoros, Mexico, and were hoping to apply for asylum in the US, the New York Times reported.

Because the international bridge was closed until Monday, they decided to try to swim across the river to Brownsville, Texas, on the other side.

Mr Martinez swam across first with Valeria on his back and tucked under his shirt, and his wife followed them on the back of a family friend.

The water was rough and as the dad approached the US side of the river he began to tire, according to Ms Avalos' account to Mexican government officials.

After swimming back to the Mexican side of the Rio Grande she turned and watched as her husband and daughter began to sink and were swept away close to the US bank, the Times reported.

Mexican authorities found their bodies on Monday close to where they were last seen alive.

El Salvador has announced it will repatriate the bodies of the father and daughter, who were from the city of San Martin, reported La Jornada, the Mexican newspaper which first published the haunting photos.

Ms Avalos told Mexican officials that they had been in Mexico for two months on humanitarian visas that were given to them at a migrant station in Tapachula, near the border with Guatemala.

The devastated mum told officials she did not intent to remain in Mexico and planned to return home to San Martin, where her husband and daughter will be buried.

Mr Martinez's grief-stricken mother, Rosa, told El Salvadorian media that her son and his family were looking for a better life in the US.

She said: "It is very sad. We're asking God to give us strength."

She told how she urged her son "not to pursue the American dream" because the journey to the border and the crossing are fraught with dangers.

Mr Martinez's mother said he was determined to enter the US so he could work and buy a house for his family.

A fundraiser set up to support the Martinez family said the parents and their daughter left their home in early April and were hoping to make it to the US to escape poverty in their homeland, where Mr Martinez worked at a pizzeria and Ms Avalos worked as a cashier.

After the haunting photos were published around the world, El Salvador's Foreign Affairs Minister Alexandra Hill urged potential asylum seekers not to make the journey.

She said: "Our country is in mourning, again. I beg you, to all the families, parents, don't risk it. Life is worth a lot more."

Neither Mr Trump nor the White House has commented about the deaths.

The shocking image of the father and daughter's lifeless bodies has been compared to a photo showing a three-year-old Syrian refugee boy, Aylan Kurdi, whose body was found on a beach in Turkey in September 2015.

Aylan was discovered face down in the sand after he drowned as his family tried to reach Europe amid the refugee crisis.

Thousands of migrants from Central America have journeys of up to 2,000 miles to the US-Mexico border to escape poverty or economic problems in their own countries.

Hundreds of migrant children as young as seven are being held at an overcrowded border station in Clint, Texas, where lawyers who visited them say they have no access to toiletries and have been unable to shower or wash their clothes.

Source: Read Full Article