Photographer Opens Up About Iconic Image Of Crying Toddler At Border

The image of a toddler being separated from her mom at the border has become the symbol of President Donald Trump's immigration policies. Now, the photographer is speaking out.



News regarding President Donald Trump’s decision to show no mercy to families trying to cross the border was illustrated by a heartbreaking image of an inconsolable 2-year-old girl.

Now, the photographer responsible for capturing this moment is speaking about the experience.

John Moore, a Getty Images photographer, was riding along with the U.S. Border Patrol when agents stopped a mother and her 2-year-old escaping from Honduras. As the mother was searched by agents, Moore snapped the image of the toddler wailing as she sees her mother being questioned by the authorities.

Moore, a father, said this image was specifically hard for him. Even after spending the past decade documenting the struggles of undocumented immigrants, he said nothing really prepared him for seeing children being taken away from their families.

“As the father myself, this photograph was especially difficult for me to take," he wrote in an Instagram post.

“The Trump administration’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy for undocumented immigrants calls for the separation of parents and children while their cases for political asylum are adjudicated, a process that can take months — or years,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer commented.



These families are mostly composed of asylum seekers who often flee their home countries because of violence, much of which is due to the drug war, an American policy that has harshly impacted central America over the decades and that Trump doesn’t seem willing to bring to an end.

In an interview to Getty’s Foto, Moore confirmed that these families aren’t the bloodthirsty criminals that the president and his supporters think they are.

"Most of these families were scared, to various degrees," Moore said. "I doubt any of them had ever done anything like this before — flee their home countries with their children, traveling thousands of miles through dangerous conditions to seek political asylum in the United States, many arriving in the dead of night."


During an appearance on CNN, Moore confessed he was emotional.


Despite this reality, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions doubled down on critics, ruling in a formal legal opinion that the “asylum statute does not provide redress for all misfortune.”

Effectively, his letter overturned decisions made by federal immigrant judges, making it more difficult for people fleeing domestic or gang violence to find a safe place to live in the United States.


Despite his comments or perhaps due to them, the image of the little girl watching in horror as agents handled her mom has prompted even first lady Melania Trump’s office to issue a statement, saying that watching children being separated from their parents has troubled her.

“Mrs. Trump hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform," the statement said. "She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart.”


As the president uses the policy of separating families to force Congress to go along with immigration reforms proposed by Republicans, countless Americans feel this situation is hopeless. As such, many have been taking matters into their own hands by getting involved in private efforts to help immigrant children.

Still, even if all Americans worked together to help these children, it would not erase the fact that Trump's policy will continue to separate families at the border.

Banner / Thumbnail : Reuters / Eric Gay

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