The father and his daughter died when she jumped back into the water, after being safely carried to the US side of the Rio Grande, to follow her dad who had swam back to get his wife.
Oscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez, 25, and his 23-month-old daughter, Valeria, drowned on Sunday 23rd June while trying to swim across the Rio Grande into Texas.
The bodies of the dad and daughter were discovered on the river bank near Matamoros, Mexico, across Brownsville, Texas, just 1km from an international bridge.
Oscars, his wife, and daughter had left El Salvador on 3rd April and spent about two months in a migrant camp in southern Mexico, awaiting their asylum request to the US.
On Sunday, before the tragic incident, they had traveled to the border to try speed up their case.
But after arriving, they found consulate closed. Oscar and his wife also learned that there were hundreds of migrants before them in the interview list, and they lost hope of seeing the authorities.
Due to frustration, they decided to cross the border illegally by swimming across the Rio Grande, an incident that resulted in the death of the father and daughter.
According to reports, Oscar has set Valerio on the US bank of the river and turned back to get his wife, Tania Vanessa Avalos.
But after seeing her dad swimming away, the little girl jumped back into the river.
The dad returned but was unable to rescue the daughter. The current swept them away both as mum Tania watched the incident in horror.
The haunting image of their bodies showed how Oscar had tucked his daughter under his t-shirt.
Her arm was draped around his neck, suggesting she clung to him until her final moment.
The heartbreaking photo reveals the dangers faced by Central America migrants fleeing poverty and in hope for asylum in the US.
According to reports, Oscar worked at a Papa Johns pizza restaurant where he was earning a monthly wage of $350.
He wanted to go to America with his family, in a desperate search for a life where they’d earn more money.
They planned to live in the US for a few years, and later return to El Salvador after earning enough money to build or buy a home.
Oscar’s mother, Rosa Ramirez, told The Associated Press:
“I begged them not to go, but he wanted to scrape together money to build a home. They hoped to be there a few years and save up for the house.”
According to Julia Le Duc, the journalist who photographed their bodies, there’re 300 people awaiting asylum interviews and only three slots a week are offered.
Mexican President, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, said on Tuesday in response to a question about the incident:
“Very regrettable that this would happen. We have always denounced that as there is more rejection in the United States, there are people who lose their lives in the desert or crossing.”
The horrifying incident prompted the Salvadoran Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alexandra Hill, to make a desperate plea to other families considering the journey:
“Our country is in mourning, again. I beg you, to all the families, parents, don’t risk it. ‘Life is worth a lot more.”