The shocking image captured Monday was a grim reminder of the dangerous journey migrants take to the United States. BBC News reported. Oscar Alberto Martínez had crossed the Rio Grande and turned around to get his wife when his 23-month-old daughter saw him swimming away and jumped after him, a journalist says.
The father clung to the little girl in red pants and black shoes, but a strong current swept over and drowned them, Julia Le Duc, the photographer who captured the image of the pair, wrote for the Mexican newspaper, La Jornada.
The newspaper talked to the man's wife, Tania, who said she saw her husband and child drown Sunday. Their bodies were found on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande.
The young girl, Valeria and her father were from El Salvador and died as they tried to cross into the United States. Angie's mother gave her age as 23 months old, the newspaper said.
Their bodies were found Monday near Matamoros, across the river from Brownsville, Texas.
US policies that make it harder for those seeking asylum to turn themselves in at ports of entry are pushing more migrants to take deadly risks and cross in more dangerous areas, advocates have said, warning the number of deaths at the border will increase.
The two deaths promoted Salvadoran Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexandra Hill to beg citizens to stay in the country and work with the government as it tries to resolve the economic issues that push so many to leave.
As news of the image spread, presidential candidates blamed the deaths on the administration.
Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris called the situation "inhumane."
"These families seeking asylum are often fleeing extreme violence," she tweeted. "And what happens when they arrive? Trump says, 'Go back to where you came from.' That is inhumane. Children are dying. This is a stain on our moral conscience."