A shocking photograph of a Salvadoran man and his baby daughter drowned in the Rio Grande fueled a surge of emotion around the world Wednesday — as US Democrats furiously denounced Donald Trump’s immigration policies.
“Trump is responsible for these deaths,” said Beto O’Rourke, one of several Democratic White House hopefuls who took to Twitter to lash out at the president.
Former vice president Joe Biden, who is also seeking the presidency in 2020, called the image “gut-wrenching.”
“History will judge how we respond to the Trump administration’s treatment of immigrant families & children — we can’t be silent,” he said.
Trump retaliated by seeking to pin the blame on Democrats in Congress, saying “if we had the right laws, that the Democrats are not letting us have, those people wouldn’t be coming up, they wouldn’t be trying.
“They want to have open borders and open borders mean crime, and open borders mean people drowning in the rivers,” Trump told reporters.
The intertwined bodies in the viral photo are those of asylum-seeker Oscar Alberto Martinez, 25, and his 23-month-old daughter, Valeria. They drowned Sunday while trying to cross the Rio Grande from Mexico into Texas, while the child’s mother watched helplessly from the river bank.
For many, the image evoked memories of a 2015 picture of a Syrian toddler drowned on a Turkish beach after a failed attempt to reach Greece.
Speaking to AFP from her home in San Salvador, Oscar’s grief-stricken mother, Rosa Ramirez, said her son dreamed of a better life for his baby daughter.
“They only wanted to get to the United States…. they had this American dream,” she said.
In Mexico, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador also came under fire, accused by critics of putting vulnerable migrants in dangerous situations by making it hard for them to cross the country to request US asylum.
Lopez Obrador came to power in Mexico vowing to safeguard migrants’ rights, but faced with a tariff threat from Trump he agreed to crack down on undocumented Central Americans trekking toward the United States.
He responded by saying he has a “clear conscience.” “We believe it is necessary to maintain good relations with the United States government, to avoid confrontation,” he said.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, another 2020 candidate, described the photo as “horrific.”
“It is just one painful example of so many that demonstrate the reckless disregard for basic humanity that have come from Trump’s policies,” Sanders said.
California Senator Kamala Harris, also running for the White House, called Trump’s immigration policies “inhumane.” “Children are dying. This is a stain on our moral conscience,” she said.
– Pope saddened by deaths –
Pope Francis added his voice to the global wave of indignation.
“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,” said Alessandro Gisotti, a Vatican spokesman.
Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer of New York displayed the picture on the Senate floor during a speech on Wednesday.
“How could President Trump look at this picture and not understand that these are human beings fleeing violence and persecution?” Schumer asked.
“We can do something about this if the president would stop playing the political game of blame, blame, blame,” he said.
The Republican-controlled Senate passed a bill on Wednesday providing $4.6 billion in emergency humanitarian aid for the southwest border but it must now be reconciled with a version passed by the Democratic-held House.
Once the differences are worked out the bill will go to Trump for his signature.
The photo comes amid a public outcry in the United States over the poor detention conditions of migrant children following a visit to a Border Patrol center in Clint, Texas, by a group of lawyers and doctors.
Nearly 250 children were transferred out of Clint on Monday but a Customs and Border Protection official said that some 100 were being sent back there.
UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said Wednesday she was “deeply concerned for the wellbeing of migrant children at the US-Mexico border.”
“Having already faced perilous journeys, some children are now being sheltered at facilities that are not equipped to meet the needs of this vulnerable population,” Fore said in a statement.
“This is a dire situation requiring urgent action and funding to provide children and families with essential services and support.”
Border Patrol officials say they are overwhelmed by the numbers of refugees at the seeking to cross the southern US border.
Arrivals of undocumented migrants have surged in recent months, with 144,000 taken into custody in May alone.
Plastic snow falling in the Arctic
Plastic pollution has reached one of the most remote places on Earth: the Arctic. That is according to two separate studies released last week which found tiny plastic particles, known as microplastics, in Arctic snowfall and frozen within the sea ice.
A study by German and Swiss scientists found that snow falling in the Norwegian Arctic archipelago of Svalbard contained as many as 14,400 particles of plastic per litre.
They said it was likely the particles were being blown in from populated areas thousands of miles away, before being trapped in snow and falling to Earth.
He ‘knows where lots of Trump bodies are buried’: Ex-Mueller associate says president’s latest dissension spells trouble
President Donald Trump has reportedly fallen out with a decades-long friend, private equity real estate investor Tom Barrack, who is currently the focus of a federal investigation into how the money from Trump's inaugural fund was raised and spent.
On Monday, former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner laid out a key reason why Trump may want to distance himself from Barrack at this point:
Televised hearings are in our future (can’t come soon enough). Tom Barrack knows where lots of Trump’s bodies are buried (figuratively speaking), inaugural committee bodies and others. Let’s hope Barrack is already quietly assisting prosecutors. https://t.co/BlgsiaX0YP
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro takes on Norway for whaling, but bungles it
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Monday responded to Norway's decision to halt its forest protection subsidies, taking to Twitter to criticise the Scandinavian country for its whaling practice and post spectacular -- albeit misleading -- images.
"Look at the killing of whales sponsored by Norway," Bolsonaro wrote on Twitter.
The post includes a video and photographs of a spectacular whale hunt, where mammals in the shallow waters of a bay are slaughtered by people wading on shore, armed with hooked knives. The whales' blood turns the waters red.
However, the images, reportedly taken on May 29 in Norway, illustrate a "grind", a type of pilot whale hunt practised exclusively in the Faroe Islands -- a Danish territory in the North Atlantic.