25-year-old Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez and his 23-month-old daughter Valeria drowned in the Rio Grande after being swept away by the strong current.
It was on April 3 when the family left El Salvador and spent two months in a migrant camp in Mexico while waiting for their asylum request to the United States.
When they arrived at the border, the consulate was closed but they discovered they were far down a list of migrants also waiting for interviews.
Instead of waiting, they decided to cross illegally. Unfortunately, it was a decision that resulted in their demise.
Oscar carried Valeria across the river from Matamoros in Mexico to a river in Texas. He turned around to get his 21-year-old wilfe, Tania Vanessa Avalos, from the other side.
But when Valeria saw her father go back, she quickly jumped back into the water.
Oscar swam back to his daughter and the two were swept away by the strong current as the mother helplessly watched from the other side.
A heartbreaking photo of their bodies showed how the father had tucked Valeria inside his shirt to prevent her from drifting away. Her small arm was still wrapped around his neck, showing how she had clung on to him until the final seconds of her short life.
Their family has shared the reason why they left El Salvador.
Oscar worked at a Papa Johns pizza restaurant, earning $350 a month. They limit themselves to only $10 a day as Tania had already quit her job to take care for Valeria.
They weren’t running away from violence, said Tania’s mother. They were desperate to search for a life where they could earn and save more. The family wanted to spend a few years in the US and eventually go back to El Salvador and build their own house.
Rosa Ramirez, Oscar’s mother, told The Associated Press: “I begged them not to go, but he wanted to scrape together money to build a home. They hoped to be there a few years and save up for the house.”
Before they passed away, Oscar sent his mother a text message. His message read: “Mama, I love you. We’re fine here, look after yourselves.”
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