Separating Children at the Border From Their Asylum-Seeking Parents


After then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a "zero tolerance" policy for illegal border crossing, including removing children from their parents, this photo came to symbolize the anguish of separating family members.

Taken in June by Getty photographer John Moore, the image was quickly labeled "iconic." Moore had been at the Rio Grande River for seven years hours when the woman and her 2-year-old daughter were stopped as they tried to cross the border. She was from Honduras and had fled gang violence there, hoping to gain asylum in the U.S., she told the journalist.

Sandra Sanchez had been on the road when Sessions' new rules were announced. As Border Patrol agents patted her down, the mother set her daughter, Yanela,  on the ground, where the child instantly began to wail. Moore said the terror on her face spoke volumes. 

Time magazine put the little girl on its cover, opposite an image of President Trump, who towered over her. "Welcome to America," the caption read. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement responded publicly, saying the child had not been separated from her mother and would remain with her while authorities sought deportation proceedings against the pair.

The White House called the photo "fake news" and accused Democrats and the media of misrepresenting Trump's immigration policies. 


Getty/John Moore