At this point, a billion, perhaps, have seen the photo taken on the Texas border of a 2-year-old girl wailing while her mother is being patted-down by a U.S. border agent, which showed better than a hundred newspaper editorials the heart-wrenching human aspect of the President’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy.
This now infamous depiction of the policy was taken by Irish-American photographer, John Moore, who is renowned for his photos for Getty Images. Some of these show refugees fleeing persecution, wars, as well as the effect of diseases on a group of people.
While along the US-Mexico border, Moore found the little girl and her mother, subsequently taking one of the most powerful and iconic pictures to come out of America, so iconic that it made the cover of Time Magazine this week.
"The mother had to set down her daughter to be body-searched, to be frisked, before she was loaded into a van and taken away." Photographer John Moore shares the story behind the image of the young Honduran girl crying at the border https://t.co/plgATIqabb pic.twitter.com/xQzpilzmEs— CNN (@CNN) June 18, 2018
There’s no doubt that Moore was the right man for the shot, considering that he had been documenting refugees fleeing Central America for a better life in the United States since the end of the Bush era. Ever since he has traveled with families seeking refuge in the U.S. by riding on freight trains and has even followed U.S. border patrols who had been chasing men near the banks of the Rio Grande in Texas.
According to The Washington Post, Moore was well-versed in his knowledge of Rio Grande crossings, as well as the types of people who crossed the border. In his view, those who traveled alone would hide from the border patrol, but those in large groups would surrender at the first sight of US customs and border protection.
Those crossing at night are often families who have been driven out of their home countries by violence and terror, simply seeking a place where they can claim asylum and a peace of mind.
Before Moore was to take the photo that would define his career, he had been told by U.S. border patrol that he was only there to document the migrants and was not permitted to talk with them.
This comes amid a recent change of the rules where pleas for asylum that would have normally been accepted will probably be rejected, instead favoring parents to be jailed and their children to be taken by the U.S. government “for their own safety”.
Moore had been waiting all of that Tuesday afternoon to take photos of them, but he realized that the intense darkness that night would prove difficult for taking the photo of his career.
When he came across them crossing the river he saw that most were women and children, which made it clear that these were people merely looking for safety and a chance to raise their kids.
In meeting the mother and daughter from the photo, Moore said that he approached them because of the way the mother was desperately holding her child.
They had been fleeing Honduras, which has been marked by gang violence and rampant poverty in recent years. Moore noted that he couldn’t imagine what the two had gone through in making it to the United States.
US Border Patrol agents take Central American families into custody in south Texas’ Rio Grande Valley. Justice Department’s “zero tolerance” #immigration policy separates children from parents during asylum process. #gettyimages #gettyimagesnews #undocumented pic.twitter.com/a9si1uYOc5— John Moore (@jbmoorephoto) June 15, 2018
While her mother was being searched, the daughter began to scream and burst into tears, which Moore couldn’t bear to listen to.
“The mother stoically had her hands against the vehicle, and the girl was crying… Neither were saying words. Nothing could be said with her. She needed to be with her mother,” Moore stated.
It was then that he ended up taking the two shots that would come to define the Trump administration’s approach to immigration and their response to those simply wanting a better life.
It played a huge role in the climbdown by the president but the child and mother are separated and are now in parts unknown. Such is America under Trump in 2018.