White House accuses Democrats, media of ‘shameful’ exploitation of crying migrant girl photo
John Moore/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — White House press secretary Sarah Sanders on Friday accused Democrats and the media of “shameful” exploitation of a photo of a young girl crying as her mother was searched by U.S. Border Patrol agents.
The White House is seizing on what has been a growing conservative counter-narrative to that photo, in accusing the media of unfairly using the photo as an image that has become emblematic of the family separation crisis that resulted from the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy.
The photo was worked into a stylized TIME Magazine cover in which the young girl is photo-shopped next time a photo of President Donald Trump, who is looking down at her as she cries.
The photo was taken by John Moore, a special correspondent and senior staff photographer for Getty Images, who was doing a ride-along with a Customs and Border Patrol agent in a part of the Rio Grande Valley called El Rincon late on June 12.
Moore told ABC News on June 18 that they saw a group of roughly 20 mothers and children “gathered on a dirt road.” The agents spoke with and searched the group, and when the mother from Honduras put her daughter on the ground, the girl, whose name he did not learn, “started screaming immediately.”
Moore has been covering border issues for a decade now as a photojournalist and he’s seen similar interactions between immigrants and border agents before, but the difference with this instance was that it happened with the backdrop of the recent zero-tolerance policy being enforced by the Trump administration.
“What was different this time is I knew what would happen afterward,” he told ABC News earlier this week.
Moore noted that the mother and child were together when they left with authorities and he didn’t see the pair formally separated, nor had he been able to confirm whether or not they were separated afterward, though the policy indicates that they could be separated.
“All that happens behind closed doors… We’ll never see that,” he told ABC News of a possible separation.
ICE said in a statement that the woman, Sandra Maria Sanchez, who is from Honduras, was previously deported in 2013 and was arrested on June 12 by agents with U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Border Patrol near Hidalgo, Texas while traveling with a family member.
On Sunday she was transferred to ICE custody and is now at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas. Her immigration proceedings are ongoing, according to ICE.
Trump has not publicly reacted to the specific photo in question, though he has said that he, the first lady, and his daughter Ivanka, have all been impacted by the photos they’ve seen related to the migrant children separations.
Under the executive order that Trump signed on Wednesday, the Justice Department is to start a legal process to change an existing court settlement that restricts the government to keeping children in detention with their parents for no longer than 20 days. The sought-after change would allow children to stay with their families for however long the adults are detained.
The order does not do anything to affect the fate of families that have already been separated.
On Friday, he tweeted his resolve to maintain tight border security standards, even as he also accused Democrats of “phony stories of sadness and grief.”
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