A Picture Says A Thousand Words, but Are They the REAL Thousand Words?



The photo below went viral almost immediately and was used repeatedly by the media to symbolize the issue of separating kids from their parents, causing a large swath of the American public – including all living former First Ladies – to decry administration efforts to curb the surge of families with children crossing the border illegally. It even made the cover of Time Magazine, with a menacing photo of Donald Trump gazing down at the child photoshopped in.

There’s only one problem:  The media’s narrative, and the inferences they hoped we drew from it, are all wrong. Fake news at its best.

As the photographer John Moore explained to NP, the two-year old Honduran child, Yanela, and her mother were apprehended illegally entering the U.S., crossing the Rio Grande River into Texas. Moore snapped the photo after border patrol agents asked the girl’s mother to put the child down for a moment so the mother could be searched for drugs and weapons – standard protocol for illegal immigrants.  According to Moore, the separation only lasted long enough to have “very few frames of that moment before it was over.”  Yanela was then quickly picked up by her mother and the two departed together.

The father, who remained in Honduras but soon saw the photo on the cover of Time Magazine, told the Washington Post  that the child and her mom were not separated, and noted in another interview that “that his wife and child are being detained at a family residential center in Texas but are together and are doing fine.”

So much for the poster child of the family separation issue.  And yes, I feel used.

One data point about this entire incident that is important to remember as these photos continue to swirl.  According to the Department of Homeland Security, of the 12,000 children who are in the care of Health and Human Services, 10,000 of them arrived alone, without their parent.  In other words, the family separation happened at the behest of their parents, in their home countries, who sent them to the U.S alone, or with a smuggler.

P.S. Time magazine issued a correction in the online version of their cover story (except for people waiting to see the dentist, no one reads the print version any more): “The original version of this story misstated what happened to the girl in the photo after she taken from the scene. The girl was not carried away screaming by U.S. Border Patrol agents; her mother picked her up and the two were taken away together.” The story, with its misleading headline, remains however.

About Author

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Dave rejoined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 2016 and brings more than thirty years of proactive communications experience working with non-profits, trade associations and the private sector. Dave has written and placed op-eds in more than 100 publications for national and state leaders in fields ranging from immigration to agriculture policy, food and energy. Ray has served as a chief spokesman for several national organizations and has extensive radio and television experience as well.

6 Comments

  1. avatar

    “A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within.”

    —-Will and Ariel Durant “The Story of Civilization: Caesar and Christ, a history of Roman civilization and of Christianity from their beginnings to A.D. 325”

  2. avatar
    The American on

    Interesting, these people are called criminals etc the worst…..but yet the father called n told the truth n set things straight…..more integrity than our politicians….n all of you.

  3. avatar

    I Read On Drudge Report That the Fake Crying Girl is Being Removed from Time Magazine?

    A correction before the issue got published or a defamation of character lawsuit the closed border party may start?

    • avatar

      Actually the correction was that their reporter had made up the part about the mother and daughter being separated. But they insist that the story still is valid because it’s a “representation” of what is going on. Talk about having it both ways. They get their hand caught in the fake news cookie jar and they’re still not wrong. And the rest of the media, not missing a beat, has simply moved on with their never ending obsession with this, meanwhile ignoring the massive exposure those pictures had for a week, even on local newscasts. The coverage of this is on a par with things like 9-11 and the Iraq invasion. Headlines every night for days on end. With Obama nothing on the same thing. This whole thing is a classic case of the bias inherent in our media. Make something up, report it endlessly, and then move on without an acknowledgement when it’s exposed.

  4. avatar

    Gee, a member of the Lame Stream Media, a so-called “professional journalist,” didn’t bother with the most basic fact checking? Well, when the FACTS might disprove The Narrative, the facts must be ignored. Saddest thing about this disgraceful incident? President Trump was a sucker for it!

  5. avatar

    This picture was 24/7 on the media, and they were clearly saying the two had been separated. Now the father has said that they were not separated and that she came for economic reasons. People say Trump should not be commenting online, but you have a media that is so biased, so eager to put out a false story and then do almost nothing to correct the original idea they planted with the public. The good thing is that so many people saw this charade, it’s going to be hard to sweep it under the rug.

    CNN accidently told the truth on June 19, when Brooke Baldwin was interviewing a Border Patrol agent named Chris Cabrera, who said “When you see a 12 year old girl with a Plan B pill or her parents put her on birth control because they know getting violated is part of the journey, that’s a terrible way to live”.

    Nor is that anything new. The 2010 Amnesty International report on Mexico noted “as many as 6 in 10 migrant women and girls are raped” and “people smugglers may require women to have contraceptive injections”. Frequently it’s the smugglers who do the assaults. That is exactly what Trump was referring to when he talked about Mexican “rapists” and the media did their “what’s he talking about” talking points.

    There is a group called the Caravan of Central American Mothers who have visited Mexico for over a dozen years, and have demanded answers from authorities, who don’t give any. Estimates of those who disappeared in Mexico range from fifty to a hundred thousand. Mass graves are uncovered all the time in Mexican border states and many are believed to be migrants killed by gangs when families could not meet a ransom demand. And Amnesty says the Mexican government turns a “blind eye” to all this and frequently their officials take part.

    So it seems the real danger is not so much in their home countries or in the USA, but Mexico. It’s a bit hard to claim you are worried about your 12 year old daughter, when they are dragged through miles and miles of desert heat, with a good chance of being raped. Most all of these people are doing it for economic reasons and will sacrifice their children to do so.

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