At What Cost?
The bodies of a Salvadoran father and toddler daughter were found on the banks of the Rio Grande on June 24, 2019. The haunting photo surfaced on Wednesday, June 26, 2019 and depicts the heartbreaking reality of the extent many immigrants go to in order to seek asylum in our country. Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez (25-year-old), Tania Vanessa Avalos (21-year-old) and daughter, Angie Valeria (23-month-old) were fleeing poverty in El Salvador and were able to secure a humanitarian visa once they arrived in Mexico. The family waited two months in a migrant camp in Mexico. After they were turned away at the U.S. border due to the Trump administration’s policy of “metering.” The “metering” process allows a few dozen migrants to seek asylum at official ports of entry per day. Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez grew desperate and made the decision to cross the border with his family to secure a new and safe life for them. Once they made it across the Rio Grande, they would then turn themselves in to the border authorities. According to Tania Vanessa Avalos’ her husband Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez swam across with their daughter, Valeria first and sat her down safely on the U.S. side. Once he began to make the swim back to her [Tania Vanessa Avalos] Valeria panicked and jumped into the river after her father. Once he realized Valeria had jumped in after him, he swam after her and managed to grab her. Tania Vanessa Avalos said that the last memory she has of her family was of them being pulled away by the strong current of the Rio Grande. Their bodies were discovered the next day on Monday after Tania Vanessa Avalos reported the incident to the Mexican authorities.
The photo depicting this tragic event has caused much controversy since its release. Which begs to question, why? It’s easy for the media outlet to “talk” about the issues at the border but once they show proof through photos, videos and interviews no one can handle the true reality of what these people go through to seek a better life. Migrants are willing to face great lengths of dangers, sometimes with children, to secure a better life in the United States. They are fleeing their countries because of extreme poverty and violence. The story of Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez and Angie Valeria should be a wake-up call for our country. Our system is broken and it needs to be fixed. Regardless of your views on the immigration issue, one thing is certain, we need to start looking at one another as human beings and not as “illegal” immigrants. Our country was founded by immigrants and it will continue to do so. We can’t let fear and hate divide us.