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Toddler Used as Face of Family Separation Was Never Separated from Her Mother

Rep. Juan Vargas (D-CA) and other Democratic members of Congress protest family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border on Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C., June 19, 2018. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

The two-year-old crying Honduran girl featured on the cover of the July 2 issue of Time magazine was never separated from her mother at the U.S.-Mexico border, the Washington Post reported early Friday.

The girl’s father, Denis Hernandez, explained that his daughter, Yanela Sanchez, and his wife are being held together in a family detention center in Texas.

They were not separated due to Trump’s zero tolerance immigration policy, as the Time cover — which includes the caption “Welcome to Trump’s America,” and shows president Trump looming over the child menacingly — seemed to suggest.

Honduran deputy foreign minister Nelly Jerez confirmed Hernandez’s account to Reuters. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released a statement to Buzzfeed confirming that Sanchez’s mother was arrested by U.S. Border Patrol near Hidalgo, Tex., on June 12 and they were both then transferred to the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas.

“You can imagine how I felt when I saw that photo of my daughter. It broke my heart. It’s difficult as a father to see that, but I know now that they are not in danger,” Hernandez told the Daily Mail. “They are safer now than when they were making that journey to the border,’ Hernandez said of the now infamous photo, which shows the girl’s mother being patted down by border patrol agents while she stands at their feet sobbing.

Time story detailing the photographer’s experience initially suggested the girl was carried away from her mother screaming but was later corrected to state that the girl and her mother were loaded into a van together. A separate Time article titled “The Story Behind Time’s Trump ‘Welcome to America’ Cover,” which remained up as of Friday morning, seems to suggest the girl and her mother were ultimately separated.

John Moore, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer for Getty Images, has been photographing immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border for years. This week one of his pictures became the most visible symbol of the immigration debate in America.

“This one was tough for me. As soon as it was over, they were put into a van. I had to stop and take deep breaths,” Moore told TIME Tuesday, describing his reaction to the scene of a two-year-old Honduran girl crying as her mother was being detained in McAllen, Texas. “All I wanted to do was pick her up. But I couldn’t.”

Due to the power of the image, which appeared as critics from across the political spectrum attacked President Trump’s now-reversed policy of separating children from parents who are being detained for illegally entering the United States, TIME’s editors selected Moore’s photograph to create a photo illustration, including Trump, to make the July 2, 2018, cover of the magazine.

In addition to appearing on the cover of Time, the photo has been reprinted in a number of international newspapers and was used to promote a fundraiser that has collected more than $18 million to help reunite families separated at the border.

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