Crying Girl at Border, Who Became a Symbol of Immigration Debate, Wasn't Actually Separated From Parents

A border agent at the scene claims the girl stopped crying as soon as her mother picked her up.

A new revelation about the young girl seen sobbing at the U.S.-Mexico border has challenged her role as the face of the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" separation policy. 

The now-iconic image of the Honduran child has come to symbolize the crisis at the border and was recently featured on a provocative cover of Time magazine.

It has now emerged that the Honduran girl was not crying over being separated from her mother. In fact, she wasn't taken away from her parents at all, according to reports.

CBS This Morning spoke to the border agent who apprehended the girl, identified as Yanela Sanchez, and her mother, Sarah. 

"We asked her to set the kid down in front of her, not away from her — she was right in front of her — so we can properly search the mother," Border Patrol agent Carlos Ruiz said. "So the kid immediately started crying as she set her down. I personally went up to the mother and asked her, 'Are you doing OK? Is the kid OK?' and she said, 'Yes. She's tired and thirsty. It's 11 o'clock at night.'"

Getty photographer John Moore, who shot the image, joined Ruiz on a nine-hour ride along on the border. 

"When I took this picture, I knew it would be important," Moore told CBS. "I had no way of knowing that it would touch people quite on the level that it has. I asked her how long she'd been traveling, and she gave me this very weary look, and she said she'd been on the road with her daughter for a month. ... Imagine doing that with children. It's almost impossible to imagine, actually."

But Ruiz said that the image of the girl has been taken out of context, especially on the Time magazine cover. 

"They're using it to symbolize a policy and that was not the case in this picture," Ruiz said. "It took less than two minutes. As soon as the search was finished, she immediately picked the girl up and the girl immediately stopped crying."  

Moore said the opposite, saying he is happy the photo is on the Time cover. 

"Oftentimes, immigration is talked about in terms of statistics, and when you put a human face and humanize an issue, you make people feel," Moore said. "And when you make people feel, they have compassion. And if I've done just a little bit of that, then that's OK."

On Friday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders blasted the misuse of the media.