Shortly after Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez and his 23-month old daughter, Valeria, drowned trying to cross the Rio Grande, a picture of their bodies began to circulate around the world.
Ramirez, his wife, and daughter were trying to cross the river after they were not able to present their asylum case to U.S. authorities. According to the AP, Ramirez had already crossed successfully with Valeria, but when he returned for his wife, the little girl jumped back in the water after him.
“He set her on the U.S. bank of the river and started back for his wife, Tania Vanessa Ávalos, but seeing him move away the girl threw herself into the waters. Martínez returned and was able to grab Valeria, but the current swept them both away.”
President Donald Trump quickly blamed congressional Democrats for the drowning, but not before they specifically blamed him for the deaths.
Trump told reporters that “their asylum policy” were responsible for the deaths, adding, “the asylum policy of the Democrats is responsible because they will not change the policy.”
Democrats contend that Trump’s current immigration policy is directly responsible for the deaths along the U.S. southern border, and not because of the unprecedented amount of immigrant trying to enter illegally, and at any cost.
Senator Chuck Schumer (D) weighed in, saying that it was Trump’s fault the father and daughter made the “perilous journey.”
“If Óscar and Valeria had been allowed to petition for asylum in the United States within El Salvador, if they ask for asylum to come here, but did it at the El Salvadoran embassy, as Democrats have proposed, they wouldn’t have had to make this perilous journey,” Schumer said on the Senate floor. “If the administration had followed through on foreign aid to stabilize their home country’s government, they would’ve not had to make this perilous journey.”
Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro (D), whose brother Julian just stepped off the stage of the first 2020 Democratic presidential debate, believes that image in question signals President Trump’s entire legacy as president.
“This is @realdonaldtrump legacy as President of the United States of America,” tweeted Castro
The image took center stage at the debate, as moderators asked the candidates about their position on immigration, and to address the current border crisis.