The now-iconic image of a young Honduran girl has been used as the definitive photo of the border separation policy. There’s only one problem with that. The child was never separated from her mother.
This is not a matter of contention. It has been verified from no less a source than the girl’s father by The Washington Post. Vox, a site that strongly leans Democrat, has published a featured story on it.
The child’s name is Yanela Sanchez. She was brought across the border by her mother, Sandra Sanchez. The photographer of the piece, John Moore, was on a ride-along with immigration officials when they came across the pair.
From ABC News:
They approached the group and the mother, whose name he did not learn, who was holding her young daughter in her arms.
Moore said that he saw the mother was breastfeeding her daughter “to keep her calm” and, later, one of the agents asked the mother to put her daughter down.
“Once the mother put her on the ground she started screaming immediately,” Moore said.
Moore has said in multiple interviews that the border patrol he was with acted professionally and compassionately.
The Washington Post story interviews Sandra’s husband, who explains he has a comparatively well-paying job in Honduras, and that he’s been worried about his wife and youngest daughter since they disappeared about a month ago. He says that Sandra did not inform him of her intent to cross into the U.S.. He also seemed displeased by her decision to risk the daughter’s safety on such a journey.
Lastly, the story pointed out that Sandra had previously been deported in 2013. The very fact that she is still alive and healthy enough to travel on foot for a month from Honduras to the United States strongly suggests that the earlier deportation was the correct decision; she shows no sign of having been in immediate and significant danger of severe oppression, injury or death.
The prior deportation also means that Sandra, unlike many other asylum seekers, is an accused felon. In this instance, unlike in many others, the U.S. government would have theoretically been within the legal bounds of the last two decades to separate her from her child and incarcerate her. That, again, did not happen. Mother and child are being detained together, pending review of asylum and likely deportation.
The response to the photo and related news has been to attack, demean and threaten immigration agents, such as when Professor Sam Lavigne of NYU doxxed more than a thousand of them in an apparent attempt to incite violence. (Policemag.com) This, despite the fact that the photographer himself has spoken highly of the border patrol and their actions.
Meanwhile, the discrepancy between the initial narrative and the truth has given rise to calls of “fake news!”, despite the fact that the Washington Post – one of the venues often targeted by that attack – was the place that broke the story about the crying girl photo discrepancies, and the place that contacted the father. Moreover, the cries of falsehood have been used by supporters of the President to indicate that the entire matter of child seizures at the border is a lie, when in fact they are easily verified.
There are hundreds of children who have been separated from their parents, and in some cases the parents have already been deported without having their children returned. One man has been determined to have committed suicide after being removed from his wife and child. (NY Times) These are not fake news.
Rather than allow one image – however emotionally strong it may be – define a situation, a comprehensive understanding should be attempted. To do less empowers those who care more about their political agenda than they do the people they claim to support.