Generic filters
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in excerpt
Search in content
Filter by content type
Choose One/Select all
Comments
Taxonomy terms
Users
Filter by Categories
Business/Economy
Commentary
Criminal Justice
Defense/Military
Environment
Education
Gov & Politics
Health
Human Rights
Immigration
Labor
Lifestyle
Media/Showbiz
Misinformation
Science and Tech
Viral Content
World
Sunday, May 19, 2024
Immigration

Floaters: Our Reflection in the Rio Grande

Migrant children are drowning at the border, their deaths met with indifference. Rescue workers call these bodies “floaters.”

The media was filled this summer with news of migrants blocked and wounded by orange buoys and sharp wire that the governor of Texas placed on the Rio Grande, the river bordering Mexico. A poll taken in August found that 51 percent of Americans approve of these hostile barriers — including four of every 10 Democrats. This is so even though it’s increasingly dangerous for migrants to try to enter the U.S. without going through official ports of entry. During the last three fiscal years, more people have died trying to cross the border than at any other time in recorded U.S. immigration enforcement history.

The dead include hundreds of adults who’ve expired from heat, vehicle collisions during Border Patrol chases, and mishaps in rivers — mostly the Rio Grande and its canals. Children, too, have died in droves, mainly by drowning. But as current polling suggests, you don’t have to like Donald Trump to be hostile or indifferent to this suffering.

Here are the children known to have drowned or disappeared in 2022, the last year with complete data, on the 55-mile length of the Rio Grande between the towns of Del Rio and Eagle Pass, Texas:

Victoria Mayor, 7, of Venezuela. Ismael Patiño, 4, from Uruguay. Angelica Silva, 4, Nicaragua. A 7-year-old boy from Angola; his 9-year-old brother also swept away but not reported found. Another 4-year-old Nicaraguan, no name provided to the media. A 3-year-old from Nicaragua and his 2-month-old brother dead weeks later of injuries sustained in the water. Christopher Alvarado, 14, from Honduras, drowned while trying to cross the river to reunite with his mother in Houston. A Cuban girl, 2. A 1-year-old from Brazil. A 9-year-old whose mother was trying to take her from rural Guatemala to Indiana. On Christmas Eve, an 8-year-old Nicaraguan boy.

This wave of child death has elicited nothing remotely comparable to the national outpouring of grief and anger that erupted in 2019 for Valeria Martinez. She was the 23-month-old Salvadoran toddler who died in the arms of her father, Oscar, as they tried to cross the Rio Grande to Brownsville, Texas. Their entwined bodies were photographed only minutes after they died. Valeria looked pristine, like a Victorian daguerreotype of a child just deceased from diphtheria. Her post-mortem intactness made her photo publishable, just as the image of Alan Kurdi, the 2-year-old Syrian refugee washed up on a beach in Turkey, was publishable in 2015.

But you will not see photos of the vast majority of children drowned at our southern border because they are deemed too grotesque for American media and its audience. “Floaters” is what rescue personnel call these bodies. They have been in the water for hours or days by the time they are retrieved. Their bellies, limbs, and faces are bloated, rotted to terrible distortion. Such was the appearance of a 5-year-old found in a border canal near El Paso in 2019, entangled with a drowned man whom authorities told the press was her father. It turned out that the two were not related. The little girl, from Central America, had crossed with her mother. Both had fallen into the canal, drowned, and floated downstream to where the canal forks. The mother went one way. The child went the other. Her corpse collided with that of the man, also from Central America. It took days to sort out the confusion. The error was never corrected in the media.

Continue reading on The Intercept

Generic filters
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in excerpt
Search in content
Filter by content type
Choose One/Select all
Comments
Taxonomy terms
Users
Filter by Categories
Business/Economy
Commentary
Criminal Justice
Defense/Military
Environment
Education
Gov & Politics
Health
Human Rights
Immigration
Labor
Lifestyle
Media/Showbiz
Misinformation
Science and Tech
Viral Content
World