THE migrant mum who watched in horror as her toddler and husband drowned while trying to cross into the US has visited their bodies at the morgue.
Tania Vanessa Avalos, 21, screamed “where is my husband?” as rescue workers at the Rio Grande carried away a stretcher covered with a white sheet.
Mum Tania Vanessa Avalos, 21, said her goodbyes to her drowned husband and daughter at the morgue in Mexico today[/caption]
Her Salvadoran husband Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez, 25, and their 23-month-old daughter Valeria died while trying to swim across the dangerous river into Texas.
A harrowing image of lifeless pair clinging onto each other while lying face down in the muddy shallows has highlighted the perils facing migrants.
Dad Óscar is understood to have successfully crossed the river with his daughter on Sunday after becoming frustrated that they could not present themselves to US authorities and request asylum.
He set Valeria on the US bank of the river and started back for his wife, but after seeing him move away the girl threw herself into the waters, according to reports.
The dad returned and was able to grab Valeria, but the current swept them both away as mum Tania screamed in horror.
Tania’s mum Estela Avalos said her daughter almost drowned as well, but a friend was able to rescue her.
Tania almost drowned as well, but a friend was able to rescue her[/caption]
Tania is said to have screamed ‘where is my husband?’ as rescue workers at the Rio Grande river bank carried away a stretcher[/caption]
“That’s how she is alive, if not we would have lost her too,” she said.
The bodies of the tragic dad and daughter were discovered on Monday near Matamoros on the Mexican side of the river, across from Brownsville, Texas.
The family, from El Salvador, had wanted to cross into the US in a desperate bid to live their “American dream”.
But today, Tania went to say her goodbyes to her husband and young daughter at the morgue in Matamoros.
The bodies were expected to be flown to El Salvador on Thursday.
GLOBAL SYMBOL OF PERILS OF MIGRATION
Haunting images of the drowned pair have renewed debate in the US about the plight of Central American migrants.
Mexican newspapers have compared the photograph to the 2015 image of the three-year-old Syrian boy Alan Kurdi who drowned off the Greek island of Kos.
In the distressing pics, Oscar’s black shirt can be seen hiked up to his chest with the girl’s head tucked inside.
Her arm is draped around her father’s neck suggesting she clung to him in her final moments – as her mother looked on in horror.
Oscar’s mum, Rosa Ramirez, had said she finds some comfort in the fact that they clung to each other in their final moments.
She said: “You can see how he protected her, they died in each other’s arms.
“It’s tough, it’s kind of shocking, that image.
‘HE NEVER LET HER GO’
“But at the same time, it fills me with tenderness. I feel so many things because at no time did he let go of her.”
She had spoken to her daughter-in-law over the phone after the tragedy.
“When the girl jumped in is when he tried to reach her, but when he tried to grab the girl, he went in further … and he couldn’t get out,” Mrs Ramírez told AP.
“He put her in his shirt, and I imagine he told himself, ‘I’ve come this far’ and decided to go with her.”
Mrs Ramirez said she had urged her son not to leave, fearing danger would meet him on the long journey north.
“Ever since he first told me that they wanted to go, I told him not to,” Ramirez she said.
“I had a feeling, it was such an ugly premonition. As a mother, I sensed that something could happen.”
Despite his mother’s pleas, Oscar and his family left El Salvador in April, hoping to find work in the US and eventually buy a house, Ramirez said.
“That was his dream, a good future for his family,” Ramirez said.
They are said to have tried to go through the official channels but had become disheartened waiting in a Mexican migrant camp for two months.
Oscar reportedly quit his $350-a-month job at Papa John’s pizza, where he worked as a delivery driver, in order to make the journey north towards the US.
His wife Tania had already left her job working as a cashier at a Chinese restaurant to become a full time mother to baby Valeria, it has been reported.
According to reporter Julia Le Duc, the family had applied for a humanitarian visa when they reached southern Mexico but had taken a bus to the border in the north because “they wanted the American dream.”
They had approached officials on the international bridge across the river and asked about applying for asylum but were told the office was closed and there were lots of other people ahead of them in the queue.
A few months ago it was reported there were 1,800 people waiting in Matamos, in north east Mexico, for an asylum interview but that there were only three interview slots per week.
The route to the United States through Mexico is fraught with peril for the tens of thousands of Guatemalans, Hondurans and Salvadorans who have crossed the US border.
US “metering” policy has drastically reduced the number of migrants who are allowed to request asylum, down from dozens per day previously to sometimes just a handful at some ports of entry.
The family had waited for two months in a Mexican migrant camp before deciding to swim down the river[/caption]
Mum Tania watched as her husband and daughter drowned, it has been reported[/caption]
Valeria, who was only 23-month-old, jumped back into the river after her father[/caption]
Oscar’s mum, Rosa Ramirez, had said she finds some comfort in the fact that they clung to each other in their final moments[/caption]
US President Donald Trump has blamed asylum laws for the tragedy.
He told on the White House lawn: “If they changed the laws you wouldn’t have that.”
Later, he tweeted: “The Democrats should change the Loopholes and Asylum Laws so lives will be saved at our Southern Border.
“They said it was not a crisis at the Border, that it was all just ‘manufactured.’
“Now they admit that I was right – But they must do something about it. Fix the Laws NOW!”
Trump remained defiant about maintaining strong border controls with Mexico.
He wrote on Twitter: “Democrats want Open Borders, which equals violent crime, drugs and human trafficking. They also want very high taxes, like 90%. Republicans want what’s good for America – the exact opposite!”
From the scorching Sonoran Desert to the fast-moving Rio Grande, the 2,000-mile US-Mexico border is a long and at times deadly crossing between ports of entry.
A total of 283 migrant deaths were recorded last year – the toll so far this year has not been released.
In recent weeks alone, two babies, a toddler and a woman were found dead – overcome by the sweltering heat.
Elsewhere three children and an adult from Honduras died in April after their raft capsized on the Rio Grande.
And a six-year-old from India was found dead earlier this month in Arizona, where temperatures routinely soar well above 38C.
Immigration and civil defence officials in Tamaulipas, Mexico, began visiting shelters weeks ago to warn against attempting to cross the river, said to be swollen with water released from dams for irrigation.
On the surface, the Rio Grande appears placid, but strong currents run beneath.
All Down the Line – the migrant trains to the US
Driven by extreme poverty and political instability millions of migrants are attempting to find a new life in the United States from Central America but are being met with Donald Trump’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy.
Entire families from countries like Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador desperately cling to trains and container trucks as they search for a way out of desperate poverty and a new life in the US.
Many intending to cross the border illegally make the journey through Mexico by stowing away on trains, collectively known as La Bestia, The Beast, or Tren de la Muerte, Train of Death.
Migrants have been known to die or lose limbs getting caught between the wheels and they also are vulnerable to criminal gangs and are exposed to robbery, rape or death.
Under pressure from the US, Mexico has firmed up its borders with its Central American neighbours and been more ruthless deporting back people from those countries.
Others have used long convoys of containers and then hidden inside.
The United Nations’ refugee agency (UNHCR) said the photo of the drowned migrants showed a failure to tackle desperation.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said: “The deaths of Oscar and Valeria represent a failure to address the violence and desperation pushing people to take journeys of danger for the prospect of a life in safety and dignity.”
Texan Beto O’Rourke, 46, who hopes to secure the Democrat nomination to run in the presidential race, took to Twitter to blame Donald Trump for the deaths.
Sharing the tragic story about the migrant deaths he wrote: “Trump is responsible for these deaths.”
He added: “As his administration refuses to follow our laws – preventing refugees from presenting themselves for asylum at our ports of entry – they cause families to cross between ports, ensuring greater suffering & death.
“At the expense of our humanity, not to the benefit of our safety.”
MOST READ IN NEWS
The tragic story has also drawn the attention of the Pope.
A spokesman for Pope Francis, 82, said in a statement: “With immense sadness, the Holy Father has seen the images of the father and his baby daughter who drowned in the Rio Grande River.
“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.”
Mum Tania Vanessa Ávalos watched on in horror as her husband and daughter were swept away[/caption]
The bodies of the dad and daughter were discovered on the bank of the river near Matamoros, Mexico[/caption]
The bodies were expected to be flown to El Salvador on Thursday[/caption]
The bodies were expected to be flown to El Salvador on Thursday[/caption]
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