El Salvador migrant dies—A 43-year-old Salvadoran migrant who had crossed into the US along with his underage daughter, has died in a hospital after fainting at a border station, AP reports, citing US officials.
The man had been detained for about a week at the main processing center in the Rio Grande Valley in McAllen, Texas. It is reported that he had health problems and was seen by doctors. The cause of his death is unknown.
The authorities have requested the immediate transfer of his daughter, who was still in the custody of the Border Patrol, to a shelter under the control of the agency that deals with minors who cross the border alone. The girl will remain there until she is handed over to a guardian, according to an anonymous agent in the media.
The death of the migrant is under investigation: both Congress and the inspector general of the Department of National Security, the agency that supervises the border agencies, have been notified. The death was also reported to the Government of El Salvador.
At least two other adults and five children have died in the custody of the US Border Patrol. since December, including a teenager who died of the flu and who had been in the main processing center in McAllen the previous month.
Earlier this month, the picture of the dead bodies of a young dad and his daughter on his back face down in the Rio Grande river have caused indignation around the world.
Rosa Ramírez had urged her son, Óscar Martínez, not to go to the United States because of the difficulty of crossing the border. “As a mother it is very sad, because everyone already knows happened, we are asking God because he is the only one who can give us that strength,” the mother of the deceased told the Salvadoran newspaper La Prensa Gráfica.
Even with the warning of his mother, last April Óscar decided to start the journey with his wife, Tania Ávalos, and Valeria, his daughter of almost two years. They left their country in search of better job opportunities and to be able to buy a house. The couple had several relatives in Dallas, in the state of Texas, USA, who would help them find employment.
The migrant drowned in the Rio Grande when he sought to rescue his daughter, before she was swept away by the current. The tragedy occurred in the area near Matamoros, Tamaulipas (northeast of Mexico), which connects with the city of Brownsville, Texas.
“The mother (Tania) told us that her husband had gone with his daughter to cross the river to Brownsville (in Texas, USA) and when he returned to cross the woman, the girl threw herself into the water. I do not know if she thought he was playing, but when he took the flow he said goodbye,” says Julia Le Duc, a photographer of the British newspaper The Guardian, who witnessed the operation and took the heartbreaking picture that went viral.
“I have seen many images of bodies, but this can resensibilize you, you can see that the father had put the girl inside his shirt so that the current would not take her away,” added the photographer.
Tania’s screams and desperation attracted attention. Those who passed through the area contacted the security forces of the Municipality of Matamoros in Tamaulipas. The operation began on Sunday afternoon and the bodies were found the next day, on the banks of the river, in the middle of some branches, about 500 meters from where Tania saw them for the last time.
The president of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, promised to the family of the deceased that he will assume the cost of the repatriation of the corpses, which is estimated at 7,000 dollars. The president said that the family will receive financial support. The migrant’s mother said that her son and granddaughter will be buried in the La Bermeja Cemetery in San Salvador.
Oscar’s cousin, Enrique Gómez, was the one who requested help from the Government through Twitter to repatriate the bodies of his relatives, and received an immediate response from the Salvadoran president in the same way.
“Someday, we will finish building a country where these things do not happen, some day, we will finish building a country where migration is an option and not an obligation, meanwhile, we will do what we can, God help us,” the president tweeted.
Chancellor Alexandra Hill said that President Bukele has given the order to follow “step by step the cases of nationals who died on the migrant’s route.” He indicated that repatriation usually takes between 5 and 6 days, but they expect it to be shorter.
Hill added that they will judge “to the fullest extent of the law” those who engage in human trafficking. “They do not care about life: they abandon, cheat and extort,” he said.
US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi told The Associated Press that she hopes the picture would shake the conscience of the Donald Trump government.
President Trump however claimed Saturday that if his border wall had been built, the immigrant father and daughter who drowned in the Rio Grande trying to get to the U.S. “would be saved.”
“If we had walls up, and if we had it hard, the father and the beautiful daughter who drowned … if they thought it was hard to get in, they wouldn’t be coming up. So many lives would be saved,” he said.
The viralized picture nonetheless caught the attention of the US Congress just as lawmakers worked to provide $ 4.5 billion in humanitarian aid for detained migrants to the United States.