Crying Honduran girl who became symbol for separated families was never taken from her mother

Jack Webb@JackWebb92
Saturday 23 June 2018 09:15
news
Picture:(AFP)

The picture of crying two-year-old Yanela became a haunting representation of the 'family separation' debate after photos of her went viral.

Now, the father of the little Honduran girl in the pink jacket has spoken out about the images.

Yanela became a symbol of the 'family separation' horrors unfolding in America, but her father has now revealed that she was never separated from her mother at the US-Mexico border.

The image in question shows Yanela crying as a US Border Patrol employee searcher her mother Sandra Sanchez, 32, in McAllen, Texas.

After the photograph was released it quickly became synonymous with the ongoing discourse around illegal immigration into the US.

A Facebook fundraiser which garnered more than $17 million to provide legal services for refuges used the image.

Time magazine also featured the girl on its July cover next to a menacing depiction of president Donald Trump.

Denis Hernandez, the girl's father, told the Daily Mail he hadn't heard from his wife for about three weeks - that is, until he saw the images of his daughter and Ms Sanchez circulating online.

Mr Hernandez had no contact with his wife, but he had been told both she and his daughter were being detained together, and that they were doing 'fine'.

Hernandez told the Mail:

You can imagine how I felt when I saw that photo of my daughter.

He went on to say:

It broke my heart. It’s difficult as a father to see that, but I know now that they are not in danger. They are safer now than when they were making that journey to the border.

Despite the dangers, Ms Sanchez had previously talked about heading to the US border to 'experience the American Dream', but she told no one of her plans to embark on this journey.

Ms Sanchez left with Yanela in tow at 6am on 3 June, and she's though to have paid around $6,000 to a 'coyote', otherwise known as a people smuggler, to ferry them across the border.

In the past, crossing the border illegally had a more lax 'catch and release' system, but this administration's 'zero tolerance' policy has resulted in illegal immigrants being taken into custody immediately.

The zero tolerance policy sparked outrage on an international scale when it was revealed children were being ripped from their parents' arms and were then being kept in what appeared to be cages.

In response to the considerable backlash, Mr Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order to keep parents and children together in family detention.

More: The dictionary is mocking the Trump administration over its treatment of child immigrants

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