Valeria was a fun child. Not even 2 years old she loved to dance, play with her stuffed animals and brush her family members' hair. Her father, Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez, was stalwart. Almost always he works selling his motorcycle and borrowing money to move his family from El Salvador to the United States. Martínez and his wife, Tania Vanessa Ávalos, wanted to save a home there. They wanted a security option.
"They wanted a better future for their girl," said María Estela Ávalos, Vanessa's mother, in an interview.
They traveled more than 1,000 miles and searched for it. Once in the United States, they planned to request asylum to be refuge from the violence that drives many Central American immigrants from their homelands every day. But the farthest family got was an international bridge in Matamoros, Mexico. On Sunday, they were told that the bridge was closed and that they should try to cross the next day.
But they were desperate. Standing on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande, America looked within easy reach. Martínez and Valeria stepped in. And before the family made it to the other side, to Brownsville, Tex., River water father and daughter underneath and swept them away.
The next day, a picture of their bodies mixed in fed grate, locked in a final embrace, was published by the Mexican newspaper La Jornada and later by the Associated Press, who shocked the world in a viscerally clear desperate moment and Recalls a 2015 photograph showing a 3-year-old Syrian boy who drowned in a quiet Mediterranean country.
Martínez and Valeria were met by twin disasters: fast-flying waters and an asylum system that was unprepared to interfere with the central Americans who fled crime and poverty.  Oscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his daughter, Valeria, in a family photo. (Maria Estela Avalos) (Greetings Maria Estela Avalos / Greetings Maria Estela Avalos)
When the image shook over social media, it became a symbol of the extensive humanitarian crisis at the border and for some a condemnation of the Trump administration's restrictive immigration policy. One of these policies, the US customs practice known as "measurement," has drastically reduced the number of immigrants allowed to request asylum every day.
"This particular incident highlights that there are many humanitarian tragedies that follow directly from our current immigration and border enforcement policies that are completely unnecessary," said Woodson Martin of Team Brownsville, a non-profit group traveling to Matamoros every day to hand out food and water to wait for immigrants. "We as a people are guilty of this, and we shall correct it."
"The direct cause of this father and daughter's death is the measuring policy of the bridge," he said.
In a press conference, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador called the deaths of migrants "very regrettable."
"We have always condemned that since there is more rejection in the United States, there are people who lose their lives in the desert or cross" Said the River, according to an AP account.
Neither the Department of Homeland Security nor US Customs and Border Protection responded to requests for comments.
On Tuesday, two democratic presidential candidates – both Texans – criticized Twitter.
"Absolutely heartbreaking" Julián Castro wrote . "Families are desperately fleeing to find refuge only for the doors to be closed in their faces. We need a more sensible, compassionate immigration system that does not criminalize desperation."
Beto O & # 39; Rourke said simply "Trump is responsible for these deaths."
"As his administration refuses to follow our laws – prevent refugees from presenting themselves to asylum in our ports of entry – they cause families to cross between ports, ensuring greater suffering and death, "he continued in another tweet." At the expense of our humanity, not for the benefit of our security. "
On Wednesday, the Vatican said that Pope Francis had seen the picture" with tremendous grief. " "The Pope is deeply saddened by their death and is praying for them and for all the immigrants who have lost their lives as they sought to flee from war and misery," a spokesman said.
Gabriela Martínez contributed to this report.
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