GOP strategist praises El Salvador’s president for taking blame for migrant deaths


Republican strategist Holly Turner praised the president of El Salvador on Tuesday over reports that he has taken responsibility for the deaths of a Salvadoran man and his toddler who drowned while trying to cross into the United States.

“It’s a tragic situation and for him to accept responsibility was moving to me,” Turner, chief financial officer of Stampede Consulting, told Hill.TV’s Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti.

“And I thought, that’s the kind of country that I want us to be supporting,” she added. “If they have a leader in place that accepts responsibility and knows what their real problems are and can put a plan in place to fix them … we should be partnering with them to help them.”

Turner’s comments come after the New York Times reported Tuesday that El Salvadorian President Nayib Bukele addressed the now viral photo of Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his 23-month-old daughter, who were pictured lying face down in the Rio Grande last month. 

Ramírez had reportedly tried to swim across the river with his family after they were unable to request asylum in the U.S.

“We can blame any other country, but what about our blame? What country did they flee? Did they flee the United States?” Bukele said during a local news conference. “They fled El Salvador.”

The photo of the drowned migrants has nevertheless renewed a tense debate over President Trump’s immigration policies.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) was among those who blamed the Trump administration for the deaths.

“To see that father and daughter embrace until the end, it just is absolutely devastating,” Schiff told CNN last week. “I have to say that the president’s effort to deflect responsibility — this is the product of this policy.”

Following the public outcry, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he offered a compromise to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to limit the deaths of migrants trying to cross the southern border, which includes renewing aid to Central America.

“It is in our national security interest to help the Northern Triangle nations with their economy, with their rule of law problems,” Graham said last weekend on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

But he added that the U.S. must reform its asylum laws.

“If you don’t turn off the magnets that attract people, which is our asylum laws, if you don’t reform them, they’ll keep coming,” he said.

—Tess Bonn

Featured clips