Things That Matter

The Victims From That Heartbreaking Photo Of A Father And Daughter Who Drowned Crossing Into The US Have Been Laid To Rest

DemocracyNow / Twitter

Photographs of Valeria, lying face down in the water with her little arm wrapped around the neck of her father, Oscar Alberto Martínez, broke hearts around the world and underscored the dangers that migrants undertake in trying to reach the US.

Now, their bodies have been laid to rest back in El Salvador.

Credit: @NBC10Boston / Twitter

A man and his young daughter who drowned trying to cross into Texas were laid to their final rest Monday, a week after a heartbreaking image of their bodies floating in the Rio Grande circled the globe.

About 200 relatives and friends followed a hearse bearing the bodies of Óscar Martínez and his 23-month-old daughter Valeria inside La Bermeja municipal cemetery in southern San Salvador. The ceremony was private, and journalists were not allowed access.

Many wore black and wept. They carried flowers and green palms, and some held signs bearing the logo of the Alianza soccer team favored by Óscar Martínez, who belonged to a group that supports the club. “For those who cheer you on from heaven,” one read.

Mourners stood with the family in their pain and time of need.

“I knew them. They are good people, and I can’t believe they died this way,” said Berta Padilla, who arrived earlier along with about 30 others on a bus from Altavista, the working-class city the Martínezes called home before they left in early April, headed for the United States. “We came from Altavista to be with Óscar’s family,” Padilla added in an interview with TIME. “We are with them in their pain.”

After the burial, relatives stayed behind at the gravesite to say a last goodbye, said family friend Reyna Moran. “This is very painful, most of all because of the baby. … They went in search of a better future, but everything came to an end in the river,” Moran said.

A collection of floral arrangements adorned the grave, including one from El Salvador’s president and first lady. Interior Minister Mario Durán was among those who attended.

The father and his daughter have been buried in a special section of the cemetery.

A municipal police officer said their graves were in a section of the cemetery named after Saint Óscar Romero, the San Salvador archbishop who devoted himself to helping the poor and was assassinated in 1980. Romero, who was canonized last year, is buried in the crypt of the city’s cathedral.

Before their heartbreaking deaths, the family had plans to make a new life for their daughter in the US.

Credit: @democracynow / Twitter

Martínez, 25, and his wife, Tania Vanessa Ávalos, 21, had been living with his mother and apparently felt that their salaries working at a pizza parlor and as a restaurant cashier would never be enough to purchase a modest home in their suburb of San Salvador.

That dream to save money for a home led the family to set out for the United States, according to Martínez’s mother, Rosa Ramírez.

The neighborhood they left behind in El Salvador is a humble bedroom community where most people live in low-rise, two-bedroom homes with a combination kitchen-living room-dining room, worth about $10,000-$15,000 each.

Meanwhile, El Salvador’s president has taken responsibility for the deaths.

Credit: @thehill / Twitter

The president of El Salvador said his country was to blame for the deaths of a Salvadoran man and his daughter who drowned last week while trying to cross the Rio Grande into the United States, The New York Times reports.

“People don’t flee their homes because they want to,” President Nayib Bukele said Sunday during a news conference. “They flee their homes because they feel they have to.”

“We can blame any other country, but what about our blame? What country did they flee? Did they flee the United States?” Bukele said. “They fled El Salvador.”

READ: This Cartoonist’s Right To Free Speech Is Under Threat As He Loses His Job For A Cartoon About Trump’s Failed Immigration Policies

This Salvadoran Father Of Two Was Deported Early In The Trump Administration And Has Been Allowed Back To The US

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This Salvadoran Father Of Two Was Deported Early In The Trump Administration And Has Been Allowed Back To The US

AP Photo/Nomaan Merchant

Recently, we have been hearing of story after story of families ripped apart by inhumane immigration policies.

And for one Houston father, that’s exactly what happened. He was detained and deported to his native El Salvador after living in the US most of his life. But thankfully, this story has a happy ending as he’s now been allowed to return to the US to live with his family.

A Houston father of two American born kids was deported to El Salvador but now he’s back in the US with his family.

Credit: @AP / Twitter

A 33-year-old father of two American-born children was allowed to return to the US on Monday, two years after being deported to El Salvador during the first months of the Trump administration.

Jose Escobar was welcomed at Houston Intercontinental Airport by a group of supporters. He was accompanied by his wife, Rose, and their two children, Walter and Carmen, who had flown to El Salvador in June to visit him.

They were all together in El Salvador when they got word that US immigration authorities had approved waivers that would let him return to the US.

Watch the emotional moment here:

The Houston-based advocacy group FIEL contacted local attorney Raed González, who took up Escobar’s case. He filed paperwork with U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Services requesting waivers that would allow Escobar to return to the U.S., citing the hardship his deportation had placed on Rose.

Those waivers were granted last month.

He had been forced to help his wife parent their children via Facebook.

Credit: @Realtor336502 / Twitter

He had video calls with his family at night, but he was often scared and worried about leaving the family home, as the gangs roaming the streets were known to target people who had come back from America and once held him up. He would watch the video from his home’s security cameras remotely.

His children, meanwhile, struggled with the pain of losing their father. And with Jose having trouble making money in El Salvador, Rose Escobar supported the family on her own as a hospital receptionist and relied on savings that were quickly dwindling.

Escobar originally came to the US as a teenager with Temporary Protected Status after the 2001 El Salvador earthquake.

Credit: TemblorNet / Flickr

El Salvador suffered a devastating earthquake on January 13, 2001, and experienced two more earthquakes on February 13 and 17, 2001.

In the aftermath, to help support refugees fleeing the country, the US granted Temporary Protected Status to El Salvador. This meant they could come to the US without the risk of deportation.

Then, under the Obama administration, he was arrested and detained for several months.

After an intense lobbying campaign, the local field office director for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement released Escobar in January 2012 “so he could get his affairs in order,” the agency said last year.

In February 2017, shortly after Trump took office and widened the priorities for detaining and deporting immigrants without authorization, Escobar was arrested during what was supposed to be a routine ICE check-in.

The next month, he was deported to El Salvador. He called his wife from the San Salvador airport to tell her what had happened.

Escobar moved to a town that’s about three hours from San Salvador, living with relatives and working intermittently as a laborer.

But now the family is living together reunited in their home of Houston.

Credit: @ChronFalkenberg / Twitter

On Monday, Escobar arrived with this lawyer who flew with him from El Salvador because he said he didn’t want anything at the last minute to go wrong. Escobar’s wife and children, his lawyer and other supporters held balloons shaped like butterflies, a symbol, they said, of migration.

Rose Escobar told other families with deported relatives to use their voice and urged lawmakers to listen.

“We need you to be the voices for other Escobars, children who need their daddy, children who need their mommy,” she told the Houston Chronicle.

As the weeks turned into months, then years, she said friends and strangers gently urged her to think of moving on. To forget.

She added: “People kept saying, ‘It’s taking so long, you should just give up,’” she said. “I would always say, ‘He’s coming home. Soon, in God’s time.’”

READ: He Has Been Deported Twice And Is Now Fighting His Third Deportation To Stay With His Sick Child

A Migrant Father Died In US Custody So His Daughter Is Now Being Treated Like An Unaccompanied Minor

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A Migrant Father Died In US Custody So His Daughter Is Now Being Treated Like An Unaccompanied Minor

customsborder / Instagram

An anonymous whistleblower reported to the Associated Press another fatality at the hands of U.S. Border Patrol Custody. The man was a 43-year-old father who traveled with his daughter from El Salvador for refuge in the U.S. He and his daughter were held for a week at the Rio Grande Valley central processing center in McAllen, Texas.

The unidentified man collapsed at the facility and was transferred to a hospital where he later died. A statement from U.S. Customs and Border Protection offers no information yet on the cause of the man’s death.

His death is the seventh since December 2018.

@MasoKitchen / Twitter

Before then, there had not been a single reported migrant death in federal custody in more than a decade. New administration policies, likely fueled by privatized detention facilities, force asylum seekers to be detained in what are being referred to as concentration camps. The centers are overcrowded, creating unsafe and unsanitary conditions for migrants.

The man’s daughter is expected to be transferred to a facility like this.

@CNNPolitics / Twitter

There is no report of the daughter’s age or condition after her father’s death. She was in Border Patrol custody but officials have submitted an expedited transfer to a shelter specifically geared toward unaccompanied minor migrants. The goal is to release her to a sponsor, but it will likely take weeks or months until she finds a semblance of home.

Meanwhile, breaking news of a Facebook group for Border Patrol agents corroborates a culture of violence and disdain for migrants.

Untitled. Digital Image. ProPublica. 1 July 2019.

Last week, a Salvadoran father and one-year-old daughter drowned in the Rio Grande. The group, called “I’m 10-15” which is Border Patrol code for the arrest of an ‘illegal alien’, is filled with desensitized posts like this one.

News of Congress members arriving at Border Patrol facilities prompted members of the group to respond violently.

Untitled. Digital Image. ProPublica. 1 July 2019.

Included in the Facebook group discussion, as reported by ProPublica, includes photoshopped images of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez being violently forced to perform sexual acts on President Trump.

Out of respect for the Congresswoman, we have chosen not to disclose those images here. Instead, the lighter option is an example of a Border Patrol agent suggesting a racist and violent group effort “to throw a 10-15 burrito at one of these b***es. Who ever does it takes the pot of $$$.” We don’t know what a 10-15 burrito is but we’re sure it’s racist AF.

AOC pointed out that almost half of the total CBP agents in the U.S. belong to this Facebook group.

@AOC / Twitter

These people are in positions of power, meant to oversee the treatment of traumatized refugees in horrific living conditions. The Facebook group offers no hope that CBP culture is respectful of migrants or women.

Just today, AOC visited several CBP facilities and reported that women were told to hydrate from toilet water.

@AOC / Twitter

AOC’s first-hand report comes in just days after a doctor reported that breastfeeding mothers were only given 1.5 liters of water per day, less than half the minimum amount required. The doctor also reported that children were losing weight in American facilities.

“CBP made us check our phones,” AOC tweeted.

@AOC / Twitter

“But one woman slipped me this packet to take with me,” tweets AOC alongside a photo. “It says “shampoo,” but she told me that this is all they give women to wash their entire body. Nothing else. Some women’s hair was falling out. Others had gone 15 days without taking a shower.”

If migrants are dehumanized, how can their medical needs be taken seriously?

@AOC / Twitter

“Now I’ve seen the inside of these facilities. It’s not just the kids. It’s everyone. People drinking out of toilets, officers laughing in front of members Congress,” AOC followed up in a tweet.

“I brought it up to their superiors. They said, ‘officers are under stress & act out sometimes.’ No accountability.” It should never be a permissible cathartic act for an employee to force women to drink from toilets. These are government employees paid by our taxes.

An aerial view of a detention facility exemplifies the conditions under which seven migrants have died.

@PatrickGilmore / Twitter

The U.S.’s capacity for detained migrants is 4,000 people. We currently have 15,000 in custody because our administration prefers indefinite detention.

We wish we knew the name of the man who bravely made the journey from El Salvador to give his daughter a better life. We’re so sorry the last week of your life was spent here.

READ: A Secret Facebook Group For Immigration Officers Mocking Dead Migrants Has Been Exposed

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