When Donald Trump talks about immigrants – particularly those from Central America – he sees criminals and monsters. But the truth is that Central American immigrants are vulnerable, especially with the Trump administration’s unrelentingly harsh immigration enforcement. Earlier this month, a Mexican official told CBS News that 10,393 Central American immigrants were sent back to Mexico to wait as their cases went through US immigration courts, despite the fact that asylum seekers have the right to ask for the protection at the U.S.-Mexico border. And while, as The New York Times stated, the “Remain in Mexico” policy will change how asylum works in the U.S., it is having immediate effects.
Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramirez and his 23-month-old daughter, Valeria, drowned trying to cross the Rio Grande. On Monday, were found face down, arms wrapped around each other, along the bank. A devastating photo – captured by journalist Julia Le Duc – has made the rounds.
Le Duc found that the Salvadoran man was frustrated that he couldn’t request asylum at the border. Therefore, he swam across the Rio Grande with his daughter. They reached the US bank of the river safely, which is when Óscar turned back to get his wife, Tania Vanessa Ávalos. Valeria threw herself back into the water, and though he grabbed her, a current swept them away, according to the Associated Press.
After the news broke, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said, “Very regrettable that this would happen. 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.”
But as AMLO continues to do the United States’ dirty work, it’s important to note that his administration – along with Trump’s – is responsible for the death of Óscar and Valeria. Just recently, Vice President Mike Pence touted the “Remain in Mexico” policy and stated that “in the last 10 days Mexico has done more to secure our southern border than Democrats have done in Congress in the last 10 years.”
These restrictions won’t stop people from coming to the United States. Instead, it’ll force them to take more dangerous paths and put their lives at risk. And while Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) or U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will try to blame those who make these treacherous journeys, those making the policies are the ones truly responsible.