Trump claims immigrant father, daughter who drowned 'would be saved' with border wall

President TrumpDonald John TrumpPompeo changes staff for Russia meeting after concerns raised about top negotiator's ties: report House unravels with rise of 'Les Enfants Terrible' Ben Carson: Trump is not a racist and his comments were not racist MORE claimed Saturday that if his border wall had been built, the immigrant father and daughter who drowned in the Rio Grande trying to get to the U.S. “would be saved.”

“We can have that number go way down if we stop people from coming up,” Trump said during a press conference at the Group of 20 summit in Osaka, Japan.

“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,” he said.

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Trump urged more stringent border control policies, saying illegal immigration was "very unfair."

"You have millions of people online for years to get into a country. They take tests, they study … and these people have worked hard, they've been online for seven, eight, nine years, then someone walks in. Honestly it's very unfair," he said.

The remarks came after a photo went viral this week depicting Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez, a father from El Salvador, alongside his 23-month-old daughter, Valeria, facedown in the Rio Grande after drowning in their attempt to cross the border.

The photo, captured on Monday by journalist Julia Le Duc in Matamoros, Mexico, sparked widespread backlash across social media against the Trump administration's hard-line immigration policies.

According to the Mexican journalist who took the photo, the father tried to cross the border illegally with his daughter after they were unable to present themselves to U.S. immigration authorities to request asylum.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerLawmakers pay tribute to late Justice Stevens Trump administration denies temporary immigrant status to Venezuelans in US Colombian official urges more help for Venezuelan migrants MORE (D-N.Y.) displayed the photo on the Senate floor to chastise the president, calling on Trump to “look at this photo” and see that these “are people simply fleeing a horrible situation in their home country for a better life."

Others, including Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffJudge finds Stone violated gag order, blocks him from using social media The peculiar priorities of Adam Schiff Trump knocks Mueller after deal struck for him to testify MORE (D-Calif.), have blamed Trump for their deaths, saying the situation is a “product of his policy” on immigration.

Trump said he hated to see the photograph but placed blame on congressional Democrats.

“I hate it, and I know it could stop immediately if the Democrats change the law,” Trump said Wednesday when asked about the photo. “They have to change the laws. And then that father, who probably was this wonderful guy, with his daughter — things like that wouldn’t happen.”

Democrats have pressed for policies that would make it easier for migrants from Central America to apply for asylum, while Trump has tightened existing rules.

The administration’s “metering” policy has dramatically limited the number of migrants who are allowed to request asylum each day at legal ports of entry, creating a backlog of migrants forced to wait on the Mexican side of the southern border.