Ramírez had grown frustrated that his family was not able to request asylum from US authorities near Brownsville, Texas, according to reports from the Guardian, as the queue for an asylum interview was 300 people, marking a long wait. Ramirez’s family decided to try to cross the river to get over the US border.
According to Vanessa Ávalo, Ramirez’s wife, he crossed first with the little girl and he left her on the American side. Then he turned back to get his wife, but the girl went into the water after him. When he went to save her, the current of the river took them both.
Their bodies were found several hundred yards downriver, near Matamoros, Mexico, where the photo was taken.
“Very regrettable that this would happen,” Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Tuesday when asked about the image, adding that "there are people who lose their lives in the desert or crossing [the river]” among the migrants.
Their death marked the fifth and sixth person who died trying to cross the border illegally after the US has tightened restrictions on the number of migrants who can apply for asylum in the US. According to US Customs and Border Protection chief Carla Provost, over 100,000 migrants have evaded arrest after entering the United States illegally this year.
Caravans with thousands of migrants from Central American countries began to move toward the United States through Mexico last fall. US President Donald Trump called the surge of arrivals a crisis and declared a national emergency in February to secure funds to provide border security including building a wall on the border. The Mexican government on Monday also deployed nearly 15,000 soldiers and National Guardsmen to the border to detain migrants who try to cross.