The bodies of Salvadoran migrant Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez and his 23-month-old daughter, Valeria, are seen June 24, 2019, after they drowned in the Rio Grande in Matamoro, Mexico, while trying to reach the United States. (CNS photo)
The bodies of Salvadoran migrant Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez and his 23-month-old daughter, Valeria, are seen June 24, 2019, after they drowned in the Rio Grande in Matamoro, Mexico, while trying to reach the United States. (CNS photo)

Some things in life you can’t turn away from. 

And that is the way I feel about the photo of the father and daughter who drowned in the Rio Grande on June 24. Their names were Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez and his 23-month-old daughter, Valeria. 

Valeria’s lifeless arm wrapped around her father’s neck; a father, from El Salvador, who was trying to find a better life in the United States. 

But now they are dead. 

Ramirez’s wife, Tania, told the Mexican newspaper, La Jornada, that her husband had become frustrated after waiting for two months for his asylum request from the United States and decided to cross the river into Brownsville, Texas. 

He made it across with his daughter, according to reports, but when he went back to get his wife, a frightened Valeria jumped in and both were swept away. 

You don’t have to be religious to look at that photo to be sickened and moved to tears. Just like the photo in 2015 of the young Syrian boy lying face down on a beach in Turkey after washing up on shore after a boat he was in capsized while trying to make it Greece. 

This latest image, coupled with pictures of children, ripped from their parents, detained at the border should shock us and set off screaming alarm bells in our heads.

People should be shouting, “What are we doing!” 

Where is our humanity? The morality? Have we become that far removed from our values?

Yet this is what the United States seemingly has become. Where immigrants are threatened with raids from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and then the raids are called off, forcing immigrants to live their lives in fear, minute by agonizing minute. And where lawyers attempt to argue that detained migrant children don't need soap or toothbrushes.

We used to take the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Yet this father and daughter will never take a breath in this country. A country they yearned to live in. 

Take another long look at this disturbing photo and ask yourself, “Is this the country I want to live in?” 

Some things in life you just can’t turn away from.