This is one of those pictures that just kicks you in the gut. A photo that makes the reader stop, look, try to look away, then contemplate – and that’s saying a lot in a world where we are exposed to thousands of images every day.
The picture of the father and daughter who drowned trying to get into the United States cannot be unseen. It was first published last week after the tragedy was uncovered on the Mexico-USA border.
Given there is an election campaign, the average voter would need a stopwatch to determine how long it took after the photo first appeared before politics were introduced. Without taking a breath, pundits and pols quickly framed the photo in the context of winning votes.
Those efforts culminated with various levels of outrage repeatedly annunciated by candidates at the first presidential debate among Democrats.
Even for the low standards of the political class, that is beyond crass.
The father and his young daughter died because politicians – some of them who were standing on the debate stage – refuse to act. The father and his daughter would be alive today if Congress changed immigration laws.
The only reason immigrants continue to storm our borders is because they know getting to the United States is like touching base in a game of tag. By claiming asylum, they know they will be released - as current law mandates – and be able to slip away. Change the law and the vast majority of young children no longer make the trip. Instead, the flow of illegal immigrants would once again largely be comprised of men seeking work.
Some politicians, enough to matter, refuse. They think the issue wins them votes. In their view, a few dead children are a fair price to pay for political gains – of course they never say it that way.
But the effort last week to make this tragedy a bumper sticker should surprise no one.
It wasn’t long ago that Kirstjen Nielsen, secretary of Homeland Security, testified that her agency gives pregnancy tests to every immigrant girl 10 years and older when they are taken into custody.
Ten years old. Pregnancy test. Chew on that.
We say the liberal set today grasps few facts. But we’ll concede that even the most ardent Leftists in Congress do understand the facts of life.
Yet when they hear 10-year-old girls are exposed to repeated rapes on their long journey to the U.S. border, our political leaders (and isn’t that an abuse of the word?) do nothing.
Stories of rape, abuse and pregnant 10-year-olds hardly raised an eyebrow in the hallowed halls of Congress. Disgusting is a word, but it isn’t adequate to describe these “public servants.”
One would think people responsible for this misery would find a dark hole and hide. Instead they seek out the brightest television lights and bray about the other guy.
Despite the headlines and debate theatrics, the news last week about dead immigrants is not new. Tragic – but not new.
Some 535 migrants died trying to get to the U.S. in one Texas county during the Obama Administration.
What made the tragedy last week different is the amount of news coverage it received.
That happened partially because the photo is so powerful. Partially.
We suspect reporters’ new-found interest in this story was mostly due to the fact we have a different president.
Other politicians, however, haven’t changed. So expect more tragedy in the future.
Whether they make news or not.
DAN HAMMES is publisher of the Gazette Record.