A photo of the bodies of an El Salvadoran man and his toddler daughter who drowned in the Rio Grande after reportedly being unable to request asylum on U.S. soil was published by a Mexican newspaper and has since been widely circulated through social media.
The Associated Press reported Tuesday that the “searing” photograph “highlights the perils” that thousands of Central Americans face as they travel through Mexico in hopes of reaching the U.S. border, crossing at a port of entry and seeking asylum.
Journalist Julia Le Duc shot the photo of Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his 23-month-old daughter, which was published Monday by Mexican newspaper La Jornada. The AP reported their bodies were found near Matamoros, Mexico, across the Rio Grande from Brownsville.
Le Duc reported that the father and daughter were crossing the river because Martínez Ramírez was frustrated that they were “unable to present themselves to U.S. authorities and request asylum.”
The AP report says a Mexican government official and the man’s mother confirmed details of the incident.
“When the girl jumped in is when he tried to reach her, but when he tried to grab the girl, he went in further … and he couldn’t get out,” Rosa Ramírez, the man’s mother, told the AP. “He put her in his shirt, and I imagine he told himself, ‘I’ve come this far,’ and decided to go with her.”