President Donald Trump said Sunday that a border wall would have saved the lives of a migrant father and daughter found dead trying to cross into the United States.
Trump made the comments speaking to reporters as he arrived at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan Sunday.
Trump noted that a wall would prevent people from trying to cross the border at a dangerous juncture. “We could have that number go way down if we stop people from coming up,” Trump said, according to CNN.
“If we had walls up, and if we had it hard, the father and the beautiful daughter who drowned … if they thought it was hard to get in, they wouldn’t be coming up. So many lives would be saved,” he said.
Trump suggested that tougher border policies make it safer for illegal immigrants who are willing to take chances just to get into the United States. He also said illegal immigrants make the system “very unfair” for those who are willing to wait in line and legally enter the U.S. (RELATED: Democratic Mayor: ‘We Are Sick And Tired’ Of Government Inaction On Illegal Immigration)
“You have millions of people on line for years to get into a country. They take tests, they study … and these people have worked hard, they’ve been on line for seven, eight, nine years, then someone walks in. Honestly it’s very unfair,” he said.
Trump commented on the incident because a photo of Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his daughter, Valeria, lying facedown in the Rio Grande River has for some become emblematic of the border crisis, a phenomenon that Democrats have suddenly discovered after months of saying it was “manufactured.”
The journalist who took the photograph claims the duo first tried to enter the U.S. legally at a designated border crossing but were denied their request to claim asylum. They then went elsewhere to enter the U.S. and drowned in their attempt to do so — even though the father was reportedly warned not to attempt an illegal crossing of the Rio Grande.
Since the publication and social media dissemination of the photograph critics have attempted to use the image as proof Trump’s immigration policies are not working. Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro has blamed Trump for the two deaths, as have California Rep. Adam Schiff and Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke. (RELATED: Beto O’Rourke Thinks People Have Died Because Of The Border Wall)
Trump said the photograph is painful to look at but that it shows why the Democrats need to work with him to change border policy.
“I hate it, and I know it could stop immediately if the Democrats change the law,” Trump said in reference to the photo, according to The Hill. “They have to change the laws. And then that father, who probably was this wonderful guy, with his daughter — things like that wouldn’t happen.”