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Posted: June 21, 2018

Time cover: Photo of little girl crying at border, Trump illustrates immigration debate

Photographer Tells Story Behind Image of Crying Toddler at Texas-Mexico Border

By Natalie Dreier, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

The heartbreaking image of a little girl, separated from her mother as the mother was detained for crossing the border between Mexico and the United States, has been combined with an image of President Donald Trump looking down at her for an upcoming Time magazine cover.

The photo of the girl was taken by John Moore, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer for Getty Images, Time said when announcing the cover. Moore has taken photos of immigrants crossing into the United States for the past few years.

Moore told the publication, “This one was tough for me. As soon as it was over, they were put into a van. I had to stop and take deep breaths.”

The girl started crying when Border Patrol agents put the girl’s mother on the ground to search her last week, Moore told NPR

The mother and child had been trying to get to the United States from Honduras for a month, Moore said.

He said that the mother and child were not separated at the border, but rather, both got into a van and were taken away, NPR reported.

CNN reported that a government spokesperson told them that the girl and her mother were not separated, but did not give any additional details.

John Moore/Getty Images
A two-year-old Honduran asylum seeker cries as her mother is searched and detained near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. The asylum seekers had rafted across the Rio Grande from Mexico and were detained by U.S. Border Patrol agents before being sent to a processing center for possible separation. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is executing the Trump administration's zero tolerance policy towards undocumented immigrants. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions also said that domestic and gang violence in immigrants' country of origin would no longer qualify them for political asylum status. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

>>Read: Trump signs executive order ending migrant family separations

They were being transported to a processing center in Texas, CNN reported.

Almost 2,000 children of undocumented immigrants crossing the border were separated from the adults who brought them from April to May, Department of Homeland Security officials told CNN.

The Trump administration said that anyone crossing the border illegally will be held for prosecution as part of the government’s “zero-tolerance” policy on immigration, no matter if they have small children or claim asylum, CNN reported.

>> Read more trending news 

Because of the uproar, not only over the policy, but also the image of the tearful girl, Time created a photo illustration depicting the girl and Trump for its July 2, 2018, cover story. It includes the words, “Welcome to America.”

>>Read: Trump ends migrant family separations: Read the executive order

Trump reversed the practice of removing children from families of undocumented immigrants caught crossing the border through an executive order he signed on Wednesday. The order, however, will continue the “zero-tolerance” policy for undocumented migrants.


Related

Behind the viral photo of toddler crying at the US border

Award-winning Getty Images photographer John Moore said he knew he had managed to capture the emotional impact of the Trump administration’s immigration policy just moments after photographing a young Honduran girl crying at her mother’s feet last week.

>> Read more trending news

The image appeared on television sets, computer screens and newspaper front pages around the globe. The photo spurred a California couple to start a fundraiser that has since raised millions of dollars to help migrants detained on suspicion of illegally crossing the border. It spurred public outrage over the immigration policy that led to the separation of thousands of children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.

>> Couple raises more than $4.7 million to help reunite migrant children, parents

Moore told The Washington Post that he noticed the girl when her mother stopped to breastfeed her in the middle of the road on June 12. She and dozens of other migrants, nearly all women and children, were stopped by the Border Patrol agents just after crossing the Rio Grande from Mexico into Texas.

“There was no place for privacy,” Moore told the Post. “(The mother) said they’d been on the road for a month, and they were from Honduras. I can only imagine what dangers she’d passed through, alone with the girl.”

The woman gave Moore permission to follow her and her 2-year-old daughter as Border Patrol agents processed them, the Post reported. It was after agents confiscated their personal items, when the girl’s mother put her on the ground to allow an agent to search her, that the girl started to wail.

The moment passed quickly.

“I took a knee and had very few frames of that moment before it was over,” Moore told NPR. “And I knew at that moment that this point in their journey, which was very emotional for me to see them being detained, for them was just part of a very, very long journey.”

Moore told the Post that the feeling he had after photographing the girl was similar to emotions he felt while covering war zones and Ebola wards abroad.

"Ever since I took those pictures, I think about that moment often. And it's emotional for me every time," he told NPR. “I do not know what happened to them. I would very much like to know.”

>> Trump border policy: How to help immigrant children separated from families

The Trump administration in April directed prosecutors to pursue cases against all people suspected of crossing the border illegally as part of a “zero tolerance” immigration enforcement policy. Parents have been separated from their children as they face prosecution. Nearly 2,000 children were separated from their families over a six-week period in April and May, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

According to CNN, a spokesman later told them that the girl and mother in the viral photo were not separated.

President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order ending his administration’s policy of separating children from parents at the U.S.-Mexico border amid global criticism of the practice.

 

Before Trump policy, immigrant families arrested at border were detained together

Before the Trump administration started separating parents and children caught illegally crossing the border, immigrant families were held together in two facilities in South Texas

>> Read more trending news

Human rights activists were outraged by the Obama administration’s decision to lock up the families, calling the practice inhumane and psychologically harmful. Immigrant watchdogs, meanwhile, argued that the family detention centers helped deter illegal immigration and protect national security.

At the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, women and children lived 12 to a building, complete with bunk beds. From their barracks, they could walk a short distance to a library, chapel and medical and dental clinics. There was also a “city park” with a soccer field, volleyball court and playground. Children attended school for four hours a day.

Erika Cisneros is one of the more than 100 attorneys, paralegals and other volunteers who recently streamed into South Texas to help the immigrant families. She objects to separating the children from their parents, and said she is particularly worried about the long-term psychological impact on the boys and girls. 

“You have innocent young children who didn’t choose, didn’t make that decision to come with their parents. Their parents brought them,” said Cisneros, an immigration attorney based in Moultrie, Georgia. “These kids are being traumatized.”

>> Related: How to help immigrant children separated from families

President Donald Trump addressed the issue Monday at the White House during a meeting with the National Space Council, emphasizing border security and repeating his call for a merit-based legal immigration system.

“The United States will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility,” he said. “It won't be. If you look at what's happening in Europe, if you look at what's happening in other places, we can't allow that to happen to the United States, not on my watch.”

In 2015, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution visited that facility in Dilley and another one in Karnes City, Texas, and interviewed some of the detainees and the pro bono attorneys from Georgia who were helping them. 

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