It looks familiar, doesn’t it?— Richard Levangie (@richardlevangie) June 16, 2018
John Moore photo. pic.twitter.com/XDfcg2gFm9
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.
A Honduran asylum seeker, 2, and her mother are taken into custody by federal agents near the US-Mexico border. They had just crossed the Rio Grande from Mexico and were to be transported to a US Customs and Border Protection processing center. 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. As the father myself, this photograph was especially difficult for me to take. It is one from a series yesterday while i was on a ride-along with the Border Patrol in Texas’ Río Grande Valley. #gettyimages #undocumented #gettyimagesnews
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.
Photographer John Moore: "Immigrants spend weeks on trains like this, in brutal heat, stopping briefly at shelters along the way. Their lives are literally in danger the whole time.... https://t.co/90EhuCZasJ— David Wm. Fischer (@DavidWmFischer) June 17, 2018
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 CNNhttps://twitter.com/AnaCabrera/status/1008467466140332033, Moore confessed he was emotional.
"As I finished taking these photographs, I had to stop and take a few breaths. I was sort of overcome with emotion myself. But then it was over and they drove away." @jbmoorephoto on the heart-breaking image he captured at the border. https://t.co/NRV9B1guBa— Ana Cabrera (@AnaCabrera) June 17, 2018
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