Pope Mourns Deaths of Father and Daughter Drowned Near U.S. Border

Tags: Currents Family, World News

By Emily Drooby

When Tania Vanessa Avalos followed a stretcher carrying away the bodies of her husband and not yet two-year-old daughter, she was unable to control her emotions.

The man and child were from El Salvador, and drowned while crossing the Rio Grande trying to enter the United States.

Haunting images of them lying face down on the river’s bank have been seen around the world.

The child’s head is tucked inside her dad’s t-shirt, and her arm is draped around his neck. They had been swept away by the river’s fast-moving currents on June 23.

“This image cries to heaven for justice. This image silences politics. Who can look on this picture and not see the results of the failures of all of us to find a humane and just solution to the immigration crisis,” asked the U.S. bishops in a statement.

The family has shared photos of the victims, who are being identified as 25-year-old Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his 23-month-old daughter Valeria who’s face has been blurred out.

The girl’s grandmother lives in San Martín, El Salvador. while clutching the dolls the child left behind, she explained what why the family wanted to go to America.

“Since they lived here with me, in the same house, they wanted to have their own house, and that was what motivated them,” she said.

But they didn’t make it.

At the Vatican, Pope Francis is mourning their deaths. His spokesman released a statement reading, “The pope is profoundly saddened by their death, and is praying for them and for all migrants who have lost their lives while seeking to flee war and misery.”

The family wanted to apply for asylum but couldn’t, so they decided to cross the border by way of the river.

President Donald Trump reacted this afternoon to what happened to the father and child.

“I hate it, and I know it could stop immediately if the Democrats change the laws they have to change the laws and then that father who probably was this wonderful guy with his daughter. Things like that wouldn’t happen because that journey across that river, that journey across that river, is a very dangerous journey,” he said.

“They refuse to change the asylum. In one hour we could have it done.”