The immigrant father and daughter who drowned in the Rio Grande while trying to cross into the United States would have been deterred and ultimately saved if a border wall had already been constructed, Donald Trump has claimed.
“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,” the US President said on Saturday, during a press conference marking the end of the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan.
His comments came after a heartbreaking photograph emerged depicting a father from El Salvador, alongside his infant daughter, floating near the banks of the Rio Grande with their faces down, after drowning in their attempt to illegally cross the Mexico-US border. The photo has been used by Trump’s critics to condemn his administration’s strict immigration policies. Trump, however, said the photograph illustrates the wrong-minded stance that his political rivals have taken on America’s border with Mexico.
During his press conference in Japan, Trump insisted that it was “very unfair” that those seeking to emigrate to the United States legally must wait for years, while illegal immigrants are often welcomed with open arms.
Trump continues to lock horns with the Democrats over his plan to construct a wall along the US-Mexico border. The plan has also faced challenges in court. A federal judge ruled on Friday that the White House was prohibited from using $2.5 billion in military funding to finance high-priority segments of the border wall in California, Arizona and New Mexico. Trump described that decision as a “disgrace” and vowed to appeal.