About that Time Magazine "crying girl" cover ... Update: Time corrects, sort of; Update: Or not

The picture of a crying Honduran girl has become the symbol of family separation outcomes from border enforcement. The picture ran far and wide in the media, so much so that Time Magazine put her on the cover of its latest issue. Time posed her with Donald Trump in an apparently heartless stare down at her, complete with the words, “Welcome to America.” Time even turned it into a GIF:


There’s only one thing wrong with this take — the little girl was never separated from her family at all. As CBS reports this morning, the little girl was crying because her mother got caught at eleven o’clock at night crossing illegally into the US, and — shocker of shockers — was “tired and thirsty”:

The picture of a Honduran girl crying as she and her mother are detained in Texas has grabbed worldwide attention and come to symbolize the intense debate about separating children from their parents. Time magazine put the young girl on this week’s cover, but the Border Patrol agent involved in the dramatic scene says the photo might be a little misleading. That agent said the mother and daughter were never separated and are still together.

“We were patrolling the border. It was after 10 o’clock at night,” Border Patrol agent Carlos Ruiz told CBS News’ David Begnaud. He was the first to encounter Sandra Sanchez and her daughter after they allegedly crossed the Rio Grande River into Texas 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.'”


In fact, the Daily Mail caught up with the girl’s father, who’s none too happy with the mother for endangering the little girl in the first place:

Denis Javier Varela Hernandez, 32, said that he had not heard from his wife Sandra, 32, who was with his two-year-old daughter Yanela Denise, for nearly three weeks until he saw the image of them being apprehended in Texas.

In an exclusive interview with DailyMail.com, Hernandez, who lives in Puerto Cortes, Honduras, says that he was told yesterday that his wife and child are being detained at a family residential center in Texas but are together and are doing ‘fine.’ …

He revealed that his wife had previously mentioned her wish to go to the United States for a ‘better future’ but did not tell him nor any of their family members that she was planning to make the trek.

‘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.’

As it turns out, the woman left three other children back in Honduras:

‘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.’

The couple has three other children, son Wesly, 14, and daughters Cindy, 11, and Brianna, six.

Her husband told the Daily Mail that his wife was seeking asylum. So why didn’t she make the application at a port of entry, where there was no risk of arrest? Maybe her previous deportation had something to do with it:


Honduran deputy foreign minister Nelly Jerez confirmed Varela’s account to Reuters. A spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection also confirmed to the Daily Beast that the mother and daughter were not separated. Honduran and federal officials could not immediately be reached for comment by The Post.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement released a statement to BuzzFeed on Thursday confirming that Sanchez was arrested by U.S. Border Patrol near Hidalgo, Tex., on June 12 while traveling with a family member. She was transferred to ICE custody on June 17, and is being housed at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Tex., the statement read.

ICE said Sanchez was previously deported to Honduras in July 2013.

And it gets worse. Varela Hernandez told the Daily Mail that his wife paid a coyote — a human trafficker — around $6,000 to smuggle them into the US. This is precisely the kind of trafficking that leaves people not just tired and thirsty, but often dead or enslaved. It’s one very good reason why we need tougher border enforcement, and trafficking is the original reason why Congress passed a law mandating that children be kept separate from adults being prosecuted for illegal border crossings.

In other words, like so much of the media coverage of this issue, Crying Girl actually represents the opposite of the assumptions blasted around by outlets like Time. We’ve experienced a deluge of misinformation and a complete lack of context over the past week or so from media outlets that are clearly more interested in an agenda than an informed debate. Yanela Varela Hernandez is the poster girl for media’s appetite for activism over truth. And they wonder why people continue to accuse them of peddling “fake news”?


Update: So far, Time Magazine has not corrected or updated its explanation of its cover choice. How long will it take before they do so?

Update: Question answered:

That’s a pretty weak retraction. The girl was never actually separated from her mother at all, and the personal testimony of the photographer turned out to be very deceptive. That testimony remains at the very top of the page; readers have to scroll past a lengthy series of photos to read the correction at the very bottom. The title on the page still asserts that the picture “made an image America could not ignore,” even though we know now that the image is of a little girl crying because she was “thirsty and tired” from being trafficked into the US and detained late at night.

Update: And on the heels of that “correction,” Time then stands behind their decision to use the photo on the cover anyway:

As Allahpundit noted, “Fake but accurate!”

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