WASHINGTON — U.S. Border Patrol officials said Friday that a girl who is pictured on the cover of this week’s Time magazine was not separated from her mother, despite the poignant image of the child standing alone, weeping.
Time attached a correction to the story, saying “The original version of this story misstated what happened to the girl in the photo after she (was) taken from the scene. The girl was not carried away screaming by U.S. Border Patrol agents; her mother picked her up and the two were taken away together.”
The Time caption says the photo was taken when the girl and her mother were apprehended by Border Patrol officers on June 12 and the mother was being searched “before being sent to a processing center for possible separation.”
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Friday that the mother, Sandra Sanchez, is currently being housed at one of the government’s three existing family detention facilities at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, 230 miles north of McAllen.
ICE would not provide information on the girl citing privacy reasons of juveniles.
Sanchez, 32, was arrested by Border Patrol agents while traveling with the little girl under the zero tolerance policy that criminally charges anyone caught crossing the border illegally.
She was transferred to ICE custody on June 17, and is currently being housed at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, according to a statement from ICE. Her immigration case is ongoing.
The agency said in a statement that she had been previously deported to Honduras in 2013, and she had illegally re-entered. ICE did not comment on the girl, citing privacy reasons. It’s not clear what will happen to her daughter, who is almost 2 years old, but immigration officials have said the goal would be to keep the family together even if they are deported.
In Honduras, the girl’s father, Denis Varela, said he hadn’t heard from his wife or daughter in almost three weeks, and Sanchez took their daughter to the United States without telling him.
He says the Honduran foreign ministry also told him that his daughter is detained with her mother and the two have not been separated.
Varela, a dockworker who lives in Puerto Cortes, Honduras, said that the ministry gave him the girl’s detainee identification number a couple of days ago.
The executive order signed this week by President Donald Trump stopped the separation of children from parents at the border, instead saying they should be detained together as their cases progress. There have been signs at the border that the zero tolerance policy was slowing, but Justice Department and Homeland Security officials say the policy has not been reversed.
A 1997 landmark settlement known as the Flores agreement, which generally bars the government from keeping children in immigration detention for more than 20 days, remains in place. Trump is seeking to have the settlement overturned, but the Department of Justice said Wednesday that the 20-day policy essentially stays in effect until Congress or the courts take action to change that.