A father and daughter from El Salvador were found dead Monday after they tried to cross the Rio Grande River from Mexico into the United States.
A photo of their bodies published first by the Mexican newspaper La Jornada, has become widely circulated by news organizations and on social media, boosting attention on the circumstances of migrants who face long wait times for adjudication of asylum cases at the border.
It also sparked debate about whether it is appropriate to share such sensitive images.
According to reports from La Jornada and the Associated Press, Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez was frustrated and tired of waiting for an opportunity to request U.S. asylum and made the decision Sunday night to try to cross the river with his wife and daughter.
Ramirez was able to get the 23-month-old girl to the other side of the river, but when he went back across to help his wife, the girl went into the water. He tried to save her but both were swept away by the river’s strong currents.
El Salvador’s Foreign Minister Alexandra Hill said the government was working to help the family, and she cautioned other migrants to not risk their lives as they travel.
U.S. authorities reported 283 migrant deaths last year.
U.S. Border Patrol said Tuesday its agents had rescued a father and small child from Honduras who were struggling in the same river farther to the west.
Guatemala’s government also confirmed Tuesday that a mother and three children found dead in southern Texas from dehydration and exposure to high temperatures after also crossing the Rio Grand are Guatemalan nationals.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration is trying to reduce the number of migrants arriving at the U.S. southern border, many of them from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, including discussing with Guatemala an agreement that would require migrants to apply for asylum there instead of traveling on to the United States.