The father of a crying little girl, whose photo was captured and placed before an image of President Donald Trump on an upcoming Time magazine cover, has revealed that that the photo is not what it appears to be.
The original photograph, taken on June 12 by Getty Images photographer John Moore at the U.S.-Mexico border in McAllen, Texas, was used by many major news organisations amid a whirlwind of media coverage centering on the separation of illegal immigrant families. The photo shows a two-year-old Honduran girl next to her mother, who was being searched by Border Patrol agents.
Multiple mainstream newspapers and magazines—including The New York Times, CNN, Daily News, and NPR—used the photo in their media coverage, adding fuel to the media fire against the Trump administration’s strict enforcement of immigration laws passed by previous administrations.
But the true story behind the photo is not what was portrayed.
“My daughter has become a symbol of the … separation of children at the U.S. border. She may have even touched President Trump’s heart,” father Denis Valera told Reuters on June 21.
The day before, Trump signed an executive order announcing that families could no longer be separated upon detainment at the border.
The father said that the girl and her mother, Sandra Sanchez, had been detained together at the Texas border town of McAllen. It was there that Sanchez applied for asylum. The father said they were never separated from each other during detainment.
Honduran deputy foreign minister Nelly Jerez confirmed Valera’s version of the events, according to Reuters.
The photo had also been used on a Facebook fundraiser that raised over $17 million dollars in donations from close to half a million people for the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) a nonprofit based in Texas that provides legal defense services to immigrants and refugees.
Valera said his daughter and her mother left Honduras without telling him or their three other children. They left from Puerto Cortes, a major Honduran port north of the capital, Tegucigalpa, to go to the United States. The father believed that Sanchez left for the United States, where she has relatives, to search for better economic opportunities.
“If they are deported, that is OK as long as they do not leave the child without her mother,” Valera told Reuters. “I am waiting to see what happens with them.”
Photographer John Moore said the mother told him at the time of the photo that they had been traveling for a month to reach the United States. He took the series of photographs on a ride-along with the Border Patrol.
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