US Politics

'Heartbreaking' border drowning photo causes outrage at Trump administration

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A photo of two drowned migrants is sending shockwaves around the US.

WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT

A "heartbreaking" photo of a drowned man and his daughter on the Mexico-US border is mobilising migrant rights activists around the world.

The photo shows the lifeless bodies of El Salvador migrants Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his 23-month-old daughter Valeria, who drowned while trying to cross the Rio Grande from Mexico into Texas.

The bodies of Salvadoran migrant Oscar Alberto Martnez Ramrez and his nearly 2-year-old daughter Valeria.
The bodies of Salvadoran migrant Oscar Alberto Martnez Ramrez and his nearly 2-year-old daughter Valeria.
AAP

It has been dubbed the Alan Kurdi moment for the US southern border crisis, capturing the deadly journey thousands of migrants are undertaking. 

The photo was published on Tuesday and comparisons were immediately made to the 2015 image of the three-year-old Syrian boy, who drowned off the Greek island of Kos.

Alan Kurdi's body lies on the Bodrum coastline in September 2015.
Alan Kurdi's body lies on the Bodrum coastline in September 2015.
Getty

It was seen as a defining image of the Syrian refugee crisis.

Many in the US and internationally have recalled the image and urged President Donald Trump to better address the growing emergency on the southern border.

The two bodies were discovered on Monday. Valeria's arm was still wrapped around her father, suggesting she clung on during her last moments.

Mexican newspaper La Jornada published the photo and a series of other images of the scene.

According to the newspaper, Martínez Ramírez was unable to request asylum from US authorities and decided to swim across the river instead.

Authorities stand behind yellow warning tape along the Rio Grande.
Authorities stand behind yellow warning tape along the Rio Grande where the bodies were found.
AAP

He reportedly made it to the US side with his daughter.

But when moving away to go help his wife cross, Valeria threw herself in the water.

Both father and daughter were then swept away by the current.

Thousands of migrants, mostly from Central America, have been trying to cross the southern US border after fleeing high levels of gang violence and poverty in their home countries.

But the journey is a perilous one. In the last week alone, two other babies, a toddler and woman were found dead after crossing the Rio Grande, presumably suffering from dehydration and heat exposure.

Tania Vanessa Valos speaks with Mexican authorities after her husband and nearly two-year-old daughter were swept away.
Tania Vanessa Valos speaks with Mexican authorities after her husband and nearly two-year-old daughter were swept away.
AAP

The Trump administration has made border security a key priority and has set limits on how many people can claim asylum each day at ports of entry.

With months-long waits for interviews, migrant families are instead attempting sometimes risky border crossings to make their claims.

"Very regrettable that this would happen," Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said on Tuesday, according to AP.

"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]."

US Border Patrol reported 283 migrant fatalities along the border in 2018.

Additional reporting: Reuters

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