Viral child picture: Border patrol agent says there’s more to the story

NEW YORK — It’s a photo that’s grabbed a lot of attention: a little girl crying as she and her mother were detained in Texas. It was recently even used on the cover of TIME magazine amidst the ongoing immigration debate, but the Border Patrol agent who was involved in that incident said the photo is misleading.

On Friday, Carlos Ruiz spoke to CBS News saying the family was never separated. In fact, they are still together now.

He told David Begnaud the picture was snapped as the agents were patrolling the border around 10 p.m. Ruiz was the first to encounter the family after they allegedly crossed the Mexican/ U.S. border illegally.

“We asked her to set the kid down in front of her, not away from her, she was right in front of her…So we can properly search the mother,” Ruiz said. “So the kid immediately started crying as she 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. It’s 11 o’clock at night.'”

MCALLEN, TX – JUNE 12: Central American asylum seekers, including a Honduran girl, 2, and her mother, are taken into custody near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. The group of women and children had rafted across the Rio Grande from Mexico and were detained by U.S. Border Patrol agents before being sent to a processing center for possible separation. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is executing the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy towards undocumented immigrants. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions also said that domestic and gang violence in immigrants’ country of origin would no longer qualify them for political asylum status. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

The photo, snapped by Getty photographer John Moore, became TIME magazine’s cover for their July 2 issue.

Ruiz said the use of the photo is misleading.

“They’re using it to symbolize a policy and that was not the case in this picture,” Ruiz said. “It took less than two minutes. As soon as the search was finished, she immediately picked the girl up, and the girl immediately stopped crying.”

“We are also fathers, we are also sons, we are also have families, and we do care, and we do our jobs, and we treat these people as humanely and as best as we possibly can” he added.

Moore said while the photo may be misleading, it does serve to humanize the immigration issue.

“Oftentimes, immigration is talked about in terms of statistics, and when you put a human face and humanize an issue, you make people feel. And when you make people feel, they have compassion. And if I’ve done just a little bit of that, then that’s OK.”