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Heartbreaking story behind picture that has shocked America: Salvadoran father, 25, carried daughter to US side of Rio Grande and swam back for his wife but drowned when scared toddler jumped BACK IN

Tragic story of El Salvador father and daughter who drowned crossing Rio Grande

  • Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez, 25, left El Salvador with his wife Tania, 21, and their daughter Valeria, one, on April 3 
  • They lived with Tania's mother and were surviving on $10 a day which he earned by working in a Papa Johns pizza shop 
  • Tania had quit had her job at as a cashier at a Chinese restaurant to look after their daughter
  • Their dream was to move to the US and save enough money to buy a house 
  • In April, they arrived in Mexico and got a humanitarian visa which allowed them to work there for a year while awaiting news of their US asylum request 
  • Tired of waiting, they made their way to the border on Sunday to try to push their case forward
  • When they arrived, the consulate was closed and they were told they would have to wait weeks or months anyway because so many were in front of them
  • Oscar decided to try to cross illegally, taking Valeria with him first and dropping her safely on the US side of the river
  • When he turned back to get his wife, Valeria jumped in the water after him and they were swept away  

The migrant father and his daughter who drowned in the Rio Grande on Sunday  died when she jumped back in the water to follow him as he swam back to get his wife after being safely carried to the US side of the river. 

Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez , 25, and his 23-month-old daughter Valeria, died on Sunday after being swept away by the current. 

They left El Salvador on April 3 and spent two months in a migrant camp in southern Mexico, awaiting news of their asylum request to the US, before they decided to take a bus to the border on Sunday to try to speed up their case. 

When they arrived, the consulate was closed but they also learned they were far down a list of hundreds of migrants in line for interviews. They decided to make the crossing illegally rather than wait - a decision that led to their deaths. 

Oscar had carried Valeria across the river from Matamoros in Mexico to the banks of the river in Brownsville, Texas, and had turned around to fetch his wife, 21-year-old Tania Vanessa Ávalos, from the other side. 

Valeria jumped back in to the water when she saw her father go back in. 

He swam back to her and the pair were swept away by the current as Tania watched on helpless from the other side.

Scroll down for video 

Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez, 25, and his 23-month-old daughter Valeria, died on Sunday after being swept away by the current
Oscar had tucked Valeria into his t-shirt to stop her from drifting away from him. He had dropped her on the US side of the Rio Grande and had turned back to get Tania, still on the Mexican side, but Valeria jumped into the water after him and the pair were swept away
I begged them not to go but he wanted to scrape together money to build a home  
Rosa Ramirez, Oscar's mother 

A haunting photograph of their bodies, which were found the next day, showed how Oscar had tucked his daughter inside his t-shirt to try to stop her from drifting away from him. 

Her little arm was still draped around his neck, an indication of how she had clung on to him until the final moments of her life. 

Tania watched them get carried away in the waters on Sunday and alerted authorities. 

Now, their family have shared details of why they left El Salvador in April. 

Oscar worked at a Papa Johns pizza restaurant, where he was earning $350 a month.  

They lived off his wage, limiting themselves to $10-a-day, because Tania had already quit her job as a cashier in a Chinese restaurant to care for Valeria, their only child. 

The family arrived in Matamoros on Sunday after boarding a bus in southern Mexico. They went straight to the International Bridge and tried to get an appointment to discuss their asylum case but it was closed and they learned there were hundreds of people in front of them so they tried to cross themselves and were swept away 

FAMILY'S MOVEMENTS

April 3: Family leaves Altavista, El Salvador for Mexico 

They spend two months in a migrant camp on humanitarian visas then decide to make their way to the border. 

June 23: The family arrives by bus at the border and goes to the international bridge hoping for an appointment but finds the consulate closed 

Oscar decides to try to cross the Rio Grande. He successfully takes Valeria across but drowns trying to save her after she jumped in after him as he swam back to get his wife. 

11pm: Search for their bodies is suspended in darkness

June 24: Bodies are found downstream in the river he family lived with her mother in a housing complex in Altavista.

They were not fleeing violence, Tania's mother has since said, but were in desperate search of a life where they could earn more. 

Their plan was to spend a few years in America to save up enough money to eventually return to El Salvador and buy or build their own house.  

'I begged them not to go, but he wanted to scrape together money to build a home. 

'They hoped to be there a few years and save up for the house,' Rosa Ramirez, Oscar's mother, told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Determined to eventually get to the US, on April 3, they left El Salvador for Mexico.  

There, they were granted a humanitarian visa in Tapachula, which would have allowed them to work for a year there while they awaited news of their asylum request in the US. 

After two months in southern Mexico with no prospect of entering the US legally, the family decided to make their way to the border to push their case forward. 

Valeria was safely carried to the US side of the river but when she saw her father re-enter the water, she jumped in after him
Oscar's mother has revealed the young family's dream was to earn enough money in America to return to El Salvador and build or buy their own house
The family had been living in El Salvador on Oscar's $350-a-month wage but were struggling

Valeria's mother Tania Vanessa Ávalos, 21, left, had quit her job in a Chinese restaurant to look after her full time

The harrowing photographs of their bodies, with Valeria's arm still clinging around her father's neck, emerged on Monday as a symbol of the worsening migrant crisis at the border
Tania Vanessa Ávalos of El Salvador speaks with Mexican authorities after her husband and daughter were swept away by the current while trying to cross the Rio Grande to Brownsville

Tania Vanessa Ãvalos of El Salvador speaks with Mexican authorities after her husband and daughter were swept away by the current while trying to cross the Rio Grande to Brownsville

Tania Vanessa Ávalos (center) is assisted by Mexican authorities after her husband and daughter were swept away by a strong current

Tania Vanessa Ávalos (center) is assisted by Mexican authorities after her husband and daughter were swept away by a strong current

Oscar's mother has revealed the young family's dream was to earn enough money in America to return to El Salvador and build or buy their own house

According to Oscar's parents, who were in constant contact with them when they were in Mexico, someone told him it would be 'easy' to cross illegally if they had to.  

They boarded a bus to Matamoros and when they arrived on Sunday, went straight to the International Bridge to try to plead their case but were disheartened when they arrived to find the office closed because it was a weekend. 

They were also told that they would likely have to wait weeks if not months for their appointment because so many other families were in front of them. 

According to Julia Le Duc, the journalist who photographed their bodies, there are 300 people awaiting asylum interviews there and only three slots a week. 

Desperate, they decided to try to cross themselves and made their way to the river bank.  

Before their deaths, Oscar sent his mother a final text message. It said: 'Mama, I love you. We're fine here, look after yourselves.'

She has since described him as a 'polite'. 

His parents want their deaths to serve as a lesson for anyone who is thinking about crossing the border. 

House passes $4.5 billion bill to assist migrantsGrieving: Oscar Ramirez' mother, Rosa, weeps as she holds up dolls which Valeria used to play with. She said she begged them not to attempt the crossing but that they were determined to live the American dream

Grieving: Oscar Ramirez' mother, Rosa, weeps as she holds up dolls which Valeria used to play with. She said she begged them not to attempt the crossing but that they were determined to live the American dream

'I hope that this serves as a lesson to everyone that crossing over is easy. 

'It’s not. It’s risking your lives,' she told local media outlet La Prensa.

Le Duc, writing for The Guardian, described how news of their deaths emerged at the border on Sunday. 

'There was an emergency call about a woman who was in a desperate way down by the river. We heard the report and went down to the river where she was shouting and screaming that the current had taken her daughter.

 I beg you, to all the families, parents, don't risk it. Life is worth a lot more
Salvadoran Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexandra Hill

'Later we found out her name was Vanessa Ávalos. We could hear her telling the officials that they had been in Mexico for two months and wanted to ask for asylum in the US. 

'She said they they’d been in Tapachula in the south of Mexico and they’d applied for a humanitarian visa [allowing them to stay and work in Mexico for a year] but they wanted the American dream – so they took a bus up to the border,' she said. 

Harrowing photographs from the scene show Tania desperately pointing to the water where her husband and daughter were swept away.

Mexican police took a boat out to try to find them but they suspended the search on Sunday night. 

On Monday morning, their bodies were found 500m downstream. 

'I’ve been a police reporter for many years, and I’ve seen a lot of bodies – and a lot of drownings. The Rio Bravo is a very strong river: you think it’s just shallow, but there are lots of currents and whirlpools.

Journalist talks about the drowning of migrant father and child

'You get numb to it, but when you see something like this it re-sensitizes you. 

'You could see that the father had put her inside his T-shirt so the current wouldn’t pull her away.

DEMOCRATS BLAME TRUMP FOR MIGRANTS' DEATH

Beto O'Rourke tweeted on Tuesday night: 'Trump is responsible for these deaths.'  

'As his administration refuses to follow our laws - preventing refugees from presenting themselves for asylum at our ports of entry - they cause families to cross between ports, ensuring greater suffering & death. At the expense of our humanity, not to the benefit of our safety,' he said. 

Booker says this happened because of Trump's 'inhumane' immigration policies

Booker says this happened because of Trump's 'inhumane' immigration policies 

It comes ahead of the first presidential candidate debates on Wednesday night. 

Immigration is expected to be a key issue during the debates.

O'Rourke was already scheduled to travel to Homestead, Fla., on Thursday to meet with activists who are leading the opposition to the Child Migration Detention Center where thousands of teenagers refugees are being held.

And Elizabeth Warren announced Tuesday night she, too, will go to Homestead. Her visit comes Wednesday ahead of the debate.

'I'm going to Homestead tomorrow, come with me,' Warren told the crowd at her town hall in Miami Tuesday night.

'A government that can't tell the difference between a threat posed by a terrorist, a criminal, and a little girl, is not a government that is keeping us safe,' Warren told the crowd. 

'He died trying to save his daughter's life,' she said. 

The El Salvadorian government has agreed to pay repatriation costs to bring the bodies home. 

The photograph prompted the Salvadoran Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexandra Hill to make a desperate plea to other families considering the journey. 

'Our country is in mourning, again. I beg you, to all the families, parents, don't risk it. 'Life is worth a lot more,' she said at a press conference on Monday. 

Politicians have heaped blame for their deaths on President Trump and his administration's handling of the crisis. 

Beto O'Rourke tweeted on Tuesday night: 'Trump is responsible for these deaths.'  

'As his administration refuses to follow our laws - preventing refugees from presenting themselves for asylum at our ports of entry - they cause families to cross between ports, ensuring greater suffering & death. 

'At the expense of our humanity, not to the benefit of our safety,' he said. 

It comes ahead of the first presidential candidate debates on Wednesday night. 

Immigration is expected to be a key issue during the debates.

O'Rourke was already scheduled to travel to Homestead, Fla., on Thursday to meet with activists who are leading the opposition to the Child Migration Detention Center where thousands of teenagers refugees are being held.

And Elizabeth Warren announced Tuesday night she, too, will go to Homestead. Her visit comes Wednesday ahead of the debate.

'I'm going to Homestead tomorrow, come with me,' Warren told the crowd at her town hall in Miami Tuesday night.

'A government that can't tell the difference between a threat posed by a terrorist, a criminal, and a little girl, is not a government that is keeping us safe,' Warren told the crowd. 

The incoming head of Customs and Border Patrol Max Morgan denied that there was a 'systemic' problem with border detention centers. 

'Are there issues that we can improve and get better? Absolutely. 

'That's why I welcome the [inspector general]. I welcome non-governmental organizations to come in and do a check and balance. 

'We should always try to get better but to say that it's a systemic, egregious problem across the board, that's just not true and the facts don't support that,' he told CBS on Tuesday.  

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Comment by stephen myers on June 28, 2019 at 1:54pm

Trump is just a Neo Nazi racist who hates people of color, a modern day Caligula, the Red communist Russian loving GOP is now in power along with the Satanist.

Comment by HandsomeMan on June 28, 2019 at 3:48am
All 3 of you full of shyte
Comment by Danny Ortiz on June 27, 2019 at 10:40pm

They did NOT want to wait in line! 

So fuck’em.

we have enough problems dealing with these corrupt douche bags in power on both sides. 

Trust me when I tell you that a majority of those who have come here LEGALLY, do NOT support this open border “free flow” of ILLEGAL migration!

just like all races with their internal issues be it blacks in Chicago, Asian and human trafficking, the Middle East, etc. this is the same s***.

Comment by Layla on June 27, 2019 at 9:58pm
It’s unfortunate what is happening at the border, but whose to be blame for their suffering? Their political leaders, that’s what happens when people vote based on tradition and not policies that will actually build the country and give each citizen a chance to have normal life.
Comment by mr1stroke on June 27, 2019 at 7:17am
And this is the part i did not understand they did not refuse them asylum they just did not want to wait liie every one else, were they suppose to skip every one on the waiting list, are they special, dont the pther people deserve the same chance? But when you have a bunch of idiots who dont read and will not research whats being told they believe everything a white person or politicians say, and many of them are negros, they believe anything a white person say without evidence, you have niggers who never feel for a black man shot by cop but feeling sympathy for that picture , damn idiots
Comment by Danny Ortiz on June 27, 2019 at 4:51am

Trump? I’m sorry for this one I’ll be honest. As a Chicano from Los Angeles, what the f*** is that white boy O’Rourke or that n***** booker talking about? These Fucken illegals (salvi’s in this case) break the law entering and this is the consequence!!! 

Theres NO such thing as immigration reform!!!! It’s a hoax...!!!

you either abide by the laws of this country or you don’t. It’s that simple... as someone who’s fathers parents came here and did it the right way, I have no sympathy for criminals like this.

you want them here sooo bad... you let them come and live in your neighborhoods you fake ass slimy politicians.

Comment by mr1stroke on June 26, 2019 at 4:54pm
So let me guess Donald Trump is the blame, he went and call them and told them to come over, or is ot the choice that he made to risk even his own child? When will you people wake up its all about politics the democrat s are as evil as those republicans, elizabeth warren says the migrant kids dont deserve this and asked what have they done, hwr answer was they have done nothing, Governor Cuomo compare the condition of the migrant children with the holocaust victims, but has never been concern about the treatment of blacks in this country how come he dont compare slavery with the holocaust? Negros on NY should feel stupid for voting for that racist f*****, but when you dont know you are slave you will continue to be loyal to yohr masters so keep braghinh democrats damn idiots

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