Warning: This post links to a graphic photo of two immigrants who drowned while trying to cross the border.
President Donald Trump on Wednesday blamed the drownings of a migrant father and his young daughter on “open borders” and Democrats, ignoring his administration’s new restrictions on asylum laws that drove them to cross the dangerous Rio Grande.
On Tuesday, Mexican news outlet La Jornada published a shocking photo of Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and 23-month-old Valeria lying face down at a riverbank after they drowned while attempting to cross the river to seek asylum in the U.S.
The photo of the Salvadoran family caught America’s attention when the Associated Press posted both the image and an English version of the harrowing story.
Trump responded to the photo Wednesday by claiming that Democrats’ desire for “open borders” and their refusal to “change the loopholes” are what led to the drownings.
“If we had the right laws that the Democrats are not letting us have, those people, they wouldn’t be coming up,” Trump said while speaking to reporters outside the White house. “They wouldn’t be trying.”
“[Democrats] want to have open borders, and open borders mean crime, and open borders mean people drowning in the rivers, and it’s a very dangerous thing,” he added later.
While trying to pin the migrants’ death on his democratic rivals, Trump failed to mention his administration’s crackdown on asylum seekers that’s forced many to undertake dangerous journeys to cross the border.
The President, who’s called asylum seeking a “big fat con job,” has ordered migrants seeking asylum to stay in Mexico for processing. Under the Trump administration, immigration officials have ramped up the “metering” process that limits how many asylum cases get handled per day, which has further clogged up the system and forces thousands of migrants to wait weeks or even months at a time in Mexico.
Tania Vanessa Ávalos, Ramírez’s wife and Valeria’s mother, told La Jornada that her husband was tired of waiting to hear back about their asylum request. The family had spent two months in a migrant camp in Matamoros, Mexico, and as temperatures rose over 100 degrees without any word from the U.S. government, Ramirez reportedly got desperate.
The family decided to cross the Rio Grande on Sunday. First Ramirez took Valeria across the river and dropped her off on the other side, then went back for his wife. However, when the little girl saw her father swimming away, she jumped after him back into the river. When Ramírez tried to save her, they were both swept away by the current.
Watch Trump speak below:
Trump falsely blames the drowning of a migrant father and daughter on "open borders." pic.twitter.com/mvCrtUXVPD
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) June 26, 2019