More details have emerged about the true story behind the viral image of the 2-year-old Honduran girl crying while standing next to her mother and a U.S. border patrol agent. While the photograph has been widely circulated as the defining image of the administration’s separation of illegal immigrant families —Time Magazine even going so far as to include the girl on its cover with Donald Trump callously staring down at her — the real story behind the moving picture is the perfect example of why Trump’s rhetoric about our broken immigration system has resonated with so many people.
Not only were the little girl and her mother not separated from each other by immigration officials, according to the husband, his wife had taken their daughter against his will to America for better economic opportunities. In the process, she left three other children behind, their father forced to try to explain why their mom abandoned them. But it gets worse: He says she also paid $6,000 to a coyote, a human trafficker, to get them into the country.
And that’s not all. According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the woman was deported in 2013. Here’s the statement ICE provided BuzzFeed about the little girl’s “previously deported” mother:
On June 12, 2018, Sandra Maria Sanchez, 32, a previously deported woman from Honduras illegally re-entered the United States. She was arrested by agents with U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Border Patrol near Hidalgo, Texas, while traveling with a family member. On June 17, 2018, Sanchez was transferred to ICE custody, and is currently housed at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas. Her immigration proceedings are ongoing.
On July 3, 2013, Sanchez was encountered by immigration officials in Hebbronville, Texas. On July 9, 2013, she was transferred to ICE ERO custody. On July 18, 2013, Sanchez was removed to Honduras under expedited removal.
The husband, Denis Javier Varela Hernandez, 32, told the Daily Mail in an account since confirmed by Honduran deputy foreign minister Nelly Jerez and ICE, that contrary to the popular narrative promoted by Time and other media outlets and activists, his wife and daughter were never separated. He also said he believes she paid $6,000 to a human trafficker to help them make the trek. Here’s an excerpt of the Daily Mail’s interview with Hernandez, in which he explains why he didn’t want his wife to take their little daughter on the trek to the U.S.:
Denis said that his wife had previously mentioned her wish to go to the United States for a “better future” but did not tell him nor any of their family members that she was planning to make the trek.
“I didn’t support it. I asked her, why? Why would she want to put our little girl through that? But it was her decision at the end of the day.”
He said that Sandra had always wanted to experience “the American dream” and hoped to find a good job in the States.
Denis, who works as a captain at a port on the coast of Puerto Cortes, explained that things back home were fine but not great, and that his wife was seeking political asylum.
He said that Sandra set out on the 1,800-mile journey with the baby girl on June 3, at 6am, and he has not heard from her since.
“I never got the chance to say goodbye to my daughter and now all I can do is wait”, he said, adding that he hopes they are either granted political asylum or are sent back home.
One more detail that has since been revealed: The little girl was not crying because she was being “ripped from her mother’s arms,” which never happened. She was crying because she was “tired and thirsty” from the dangerous journey her mother forced her to take believing the two might be granted asylum — an assumption that likely would have been affirmed under Obama’s “catch and release” policy.
And here’s Time’s disastrously false cover (which it is still defending):