Everything The Media Got Wrong About The Crying Girl On The TIME Cover


Amber Athey Podcast Columnist
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The media’s narrative about family separation at the border has been completely demolished, as the truth behind a viral photo of a crying Honduran child tells a completely different story.

Getty photographer John Moore captured the shot of the child looking up at her mother and crying. It was later featured on a TIME Magazine cover called “Welcome to America,” in which the little girl and the president have been photoshopped to appear as though they are looking at each other — the girl crying and desperate, President Trump merciless and uncompassionate.

Many in the media quickly pounced on the image, claiming it was the perfect representation of families being separated at the border under Trump’s zero-tolerance policy on illegal border crossings.

However, since being published, a number of inconvenient truths about the photo of Sandra Sanchez her two-year-old daughter Yanela have been revealed.


It turns out that the young girl was never separated from her mother; she was only briefly set down so that border patrol agents could conduct a pat-down on the mother. (RELATED: Crying Honduran Child Who Became The Face Of Border Family Separation Was Never Separated From Family)

Border patrol agent Carlos Ruiz, who was the first to encounter Sandra Sanchez and Yanela told CBS News his side of the story on Friday morning. (RELATED: Border Patrol Agent Tells Truth Behind TIME Cover)

“We asked her to set the kid down in front of her, not away from her … and so we can properly search the mother. So, the kid immediately started crying as [Sanchez[ set her down. I personally went up to the mother and asked her, ‘are you doing OK, is the kid OK?’ and she said, ‘Yes, she’s tired and thirsty and it’s 11 o’clock at night,” Ruiz explained.

“They’re using [the picture] to symbolize a policy and that was not the case on this picture,” he said.


Many assumed that Sanchez took her daughter on the dangerous journey from Honduras to the United States in an effort to escape violence, as some family separations occur when the parent claims asylum after illegal entry. However, Denis Javier Varela Hernandez, Yanela’s father, said that Sanchez was actually looking for work.

“He said that Sandra had always wanted to experience ‘the American dream’ and hoped to find a good job in the States,” The Daily Mail reported on Thursday.


Immigration and Customs Enforcement told several news outlets that Sanchez was previously deported from the United States in 2013. While illegally crossing the border is a misdemeanor, attempts at illegal reentry are classified as felonies. (RELATED: Mother Of Crying Child Was Previously Deported In 2013)


Hernandez also told the media that Sanchez left behind her three other children when she took Yanela across the U.S. border. The couple has three other children: Wesly, 14, Cindy, 11 and Brianna, six.

“He said that Yanela is the youngest of four children and she was the only one that traveled with her mother, a decision that surprised him,” The Daily Mail reported.


Hernandez was less than thrilled that Sanchez decided to make the journey with their young daughter and wishes she had never left.

“I didn’t support it. I asked her, why? Why would she want to put our little girl through that? But it was her decision at the end of the day,” Hernandez said. “I don’t have any resentment for my wife, but I do think it was irresponsible of her to take the baby with her in her arms because we don’t know what could happen.”


Sanchez allegedly paid thousands of dollars to a smuggler to help her and her daughter make it to the United States.

“Denis said that he believes the journey across the border is only worth it to some degree, and admits that it’s not something he would ever consider,” Daily Mail wrote. “He said he heard from friends that his wife paid $6,000 for a coyote — a term for someone who smuggles people across the border.”

President Donald Trump accused the media of helping smugglers and human traffickers on Tuesday, presumably because the media has sharply critiqued his tough stance on immigration. (RELATED: Trump Attacks Media For Helping Smugglers And Human Traffickers: ‘They Know It’)

Hernandez and the photographer both admit that two-year-old Yanela is not the perfect representation of the border crisis, but still say they are “happy” that she has become the face of the movement to reform immigration policy.

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