Activists Politicize Vigil for Drowned Dad, Daughter: Stop Detaining and Separating Families

MARCO RODRIGUEZ/AFP/Getty Images
MARCO RODRIGUEZ/AFP/Getty Images

Open border activists and the leftist media are politicizing the death of a El Salvadoran man and his young daughter, including at a vigil in Brownville, Texas, last weekend where activists spoke out against the detention of migrants who cross the U.S. border illegally or turn themselves in to seek asylum and the separation of families that law requires.

Alberto Martinez Ramirez and his 23-month-old daughter Angie Valeria were not in detention and were together when they drowned trying to cross the Rio Grande River.

National Public Radio (NPR) reported that the wife and mother, Tania Vaness Avalos, “watched as her family was swept away.”

NPR’s reporting implies the deaths are linked to President Donald Trump’s efforts to stop the ongoing surge of as many as a million migrants predicted to make it into the U.S. in 2019:

Julia Le Duc, a journalist working for La Jornada, took a photo that showed Ramirez and his daughter face down by the riverbank. The child was tucked into her father’s shirt, her arm still around his neck. The image went viral and shed light on restrictive U.S. government policies like metering that have pushed some desperate migrants to risk crossing the river between ports of entry.

Joyce Hamilton, a member of the group Angry Tias and Abuelas, spoke to the crowd. “On the way here tonight,” she said, “all I could think is that there’s no way I could talk tonight because this whole past week or so has been just so crushing.”

Angry Tias and Abuelas and other activist groups organized the vigil, according to NPR.

“We only know a few things about them,” Gabriela Zavala, executive director of a center for immigrants in a local church, said. “But we do know this.”

“We know that they, like many immigrants before them and many immigrants after them, made the ultimate sacrifice to leave their counties behind to brave a dangerous trek in search of safety and a better life,” Zavala said, telling people at the vigil to pressure the U.S. government.

“Demand that they end family separation and detention and that they hold our leaders accountable for terrible policymaking,” Zavala said. “Policies like metering that keeps our asylum seekers waiting in Mexico, despite the knowledge that they undergo very bad treatment and that the conditions are terrible.”

A migrant said in the NPR report that “Valeria’s smile was luminous and she thought Valeria’s parents were a beautiful couple.”

NPR reported on another couple who came to Mexico from Cuba. The couple has a daughter and the mother is five months pregnant. She told NPR that she and her husband were considering crossing the river before the drownings.

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