Warning: Graphic image below
MEXICO CITY – A horrific photo from the US border with Mexico shows a Salvadoran father and his daughter face-down in the water, having drowned while trying to get to the United States.
The young girl is tucked inside her father’s shirt, her right arm around his neck as they lie near the shore. They were discovered on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande, near Matamoros, across from Brownsville, Texas.
The government of El Salvador identified them as Oscar Alberto Martinez and his daughter, Angie Valeria M. The child was 2 years old, The Associated Press reported.
For many, the scene is reminiscent of the iconic 2015 image of a drowned migrant toddler on a Turkish beach. But instead of people fleeing to Europe, these two were among thousands trying to reach the United States.
The haunting photo illustrates the human toll of a crisis at the border that’s often debated with statistics and detached policy arguments. For months, advocates have been warning that deaths at the border would increase as migrants are forced to cross in more dangerous areas by US policies that make it harder for those seeking asylum to turn themselves in at ports of entry.
In the photo, the bodies have come to rest near a river bank where five discarded beer cans and an empty soda bottle sit in the tall reeds. Another beer can floats next to the girl’s body.
Salvadoran officials said the father and daughter drowned on Sunday. Their bodies were found Monday.
Salvadoran Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexandra Hill said the government is working with Mexican authorities to repatriate the remains.
She called on those who plan to migrate to the United States illegally to refrain from doing so.
“Our country is in mourning, again. I beg you, to all the families, parents, don’t risk it,” she said, according to a CNN translation. “Life is worth a lot more.”