The Story Behind the Viral Photo of a Crying Child at the Border

Anyone who has been following news in the United States recently has probably heard about the turmoil surrounding the separation of undocumented immigrant children from their parents at the southern border of the country. One photographer documented the human face of this policy with a viral photo of a crying toddler at the border.

CNN Reporter Ana Cabrera interviewed Getty Images Photographer John Moore about his image. Moore was in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas photographing Border Patrol activities as people were crossing the Rio Grande river from Mexico at night. He spoke with the mother of the two-year-old child in the image who said they were asylum seekers from Honduras who had been traveling for a month. Federal agents asked the mother to put down her child so they could body search her. They were later transported to a U.S. Customer and Border Protection processing center.

Moore says that the series of photographs he captured that night were difficult for him to take "as a journalist, as a human being, and especially as a father" as he knew that the children would soon be separated from their parents into separate detention centers. For this particular image, he said he only had a matter of seconds to move into position and get down on a knee to be at the child's level before taking the picture. The mother and child were put into a van and driven off soon after, presumably to a detention center for processing.

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Anonymous's picture

I await the insightful, levelheaded, and emphatheic discussion this article will prompt from the community...

user-189304's picture


Genuine lolls

Regardless your point of view or who you hold to blame, it *is* a sad thing. I've witnessed similar situations with nothing I could do. It would never occur to me to take a picture of it.

It’s sad and what’s even more sad is this was happening back with the previous president as well. This just did not start now. They just have nothing else to complain about with the current president sonits all being brought to light now.

Anonymous's picture

This article is referring to how some children are being taken from their parents at border crossings. This started in late April this year after the instituting of new policies. So it is false to state that this happened under previous administrations. Please don’t spread falsities.

Michael Little's picture

Yeah, about that. You would be about 100% wrong on that. Also, I was just reading an article that of the 14,000 kids in custody, 10,000 were sent here alone, without their parents. It's nice to think that Trump is to blame for irresponsible parents sending their kids here with a stranger but, sad to say, this has been going on for years.

Anonymous's picture

Don’t twist this. The official policy to separate these children from their families was enacted in April this year under the zero tolerance program.

Actually, the law was passed even before President Obama took office. When someone breaks the law, you can either enforce the law (which is the duty of the president and DOJ); ignore the law (which promotes breaking laws through inaction); or change the law (you can blame whoever you like but that will require bipartisan effort).

Anonymous's picture

I’m discussing the policy, not the law, which did begin in April. There are ways to enforce laws that don’t involve breaking up families in this manner.

Great. Name one.

Anonymous's picture

Let the children stay with their parents while they are being held and prosecuted. How’s that?

That's a great idea. Current law limits the length of time to keep children to a period far less than the time required to process the parents claims, by virtue of the fact children are involved. They could and should change the law to accommodate the situation. The president can't do that. The DOJ can't do that. ICE can't do that. Congress needs to do that.

Anonymous's picture

What specific law was passed requiring children to be removed from their families at the border? And how long can these children be held under the law?

Allen Butler's picture

Sam is correct. The feds can only hold the children for 20 days. Takes far longer to process a political asylum case.

But, if you legally enter the country to seek asylum with your kids, you won’t be separated from your kids. Is this a photo of legal entry into the country or an illegal entry?

It could, in fact, be a photo of legal entry. There's no context. It could be the child is just tired and hungry.

Mark James's picture

Crossing the river at night doesn't sound too legal to me. The US officials have no clue who's kids these people have with them. For all we know they bought them and are bring them here for the sex slave trade. I believe diligence is required.

I was referring to this specific photo. It could be anything.

Mark James's picture

It could be, but if you read the article, you'd know the photographer said, they were crossing the river at night.
And were not seperatted at that facility.

Michael Little's picture

You didn't read my comment. Let me state it again. There's 14,000 children being held for attempting to enter the country illegally. Of those 14,000 roughly 10,000 were sent here by their parents. Not WITH their parents. So they were separated when the left home, not when they got here. That's the first part of your statement that isn't accurate. It's a nice feel good comment but it's false. Second, Those photos I sent you a link to were from 2014, when Obama was president. Did that bother you then or just now? You keep speaking of a policy that began in April. Can you post a link to it here? Let me ask you a question. It's really simple. I have kids, If I rob a bank and have to go to jail is the government separating me from my kids or did my illegal act cause that?

Michael Little's picture

So I found the official policy. Please back up your claim of "..The official policy to separate these children from their families was enacted in April this year under the zero tolerance program.." Please show me the official policy that separates these children. I can't seem to find anything remotely related to children in the policy....

Anonymous's picture

Instigating this zero tolerance policy immediately refers all border crossings cases to federal prosecution, rather than to immigration services. Prior to this policy (which, mind you, is not a law or even a reinterpretation of an existing law, but rather a new policy by the DoJ instigated in April) families caught crossing the border were held together in detention centers until the parents were prosecuted and/or deported (if deported, the children went with them. If prosecuted, the children were sent to the nearest relative or into HHS). Now they are removed from each other because the policy (again, not the law) is to immediately prosecute nearly all crossing regardless of circumstance. That's how the new official policy separates children from their families, and why there were nearly 2,000 children separated from their families in May alone.

Two other points, Michael. Your stats on the number of children crossing without their parents are meaningless to this discussion, because the discussion is about this new policy. It's a straw man argument that is disingenuous. And two, yes, I have constantly been bothered by any inhumane treatment by the United States government, regardless of party or president. To assume that because I am upset now I must be anti-Trump and/or pro-Obama is a myopic, naive, politicizing of a problem.

Michael Little's picture

I guess we can agree to disagree. I enjoy a healthy debate and appreciate your position. I also appreciate keeping personal attacks from the debate. Have a great day!

Anonymous's picture

It’s a very complicated sitauation with no right answer and solve all. We can indeed agree to disagree.

My apologies if it came across as a personal attack. I was responding to one of your statements, not to who you are.

Have a good day as well!

Michael Little's picture

I was never offended by any of your comments, nor did I feel as though you were attacking me. I hope I didn't offend you!

Anonymous's picture

No you didn’t offend me at all, but I appreciate you checking on it.

For the sake of discussion...let's just assume you are correct. I simply ask then which of those two administrations can do something about this RIGHT NOW? And I mean which administration can do something to STOP separating children from their parents at the border RIGHT NOW? Then one has to ask then...why are they NOT doing something right now? And the answer to that is: They don't want to.

The administration's choice is to enforce the laws enacted by congress on the behalf of their constituents or flip us off. That's not for the sake of discussion. That's the truth!

Hmmm..yeah...good point. Too bad the GOP only controls the House, the Senate, and the White House. Otherwise they would be fixing this bad law. Right?

There's a big difference between having a simple majority and controlling. That difference is one of the things that's *designed* to maintain some semblance of order.

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