Mother of migrant man who drowned with daughter responds to 'shocking' image of their death

Rosa Ramírez, whose son and granddaughter died this week attempting to cross the Rio Grande into Texas, reacted Wednesday to the widely-circulated photograph of their bodies, in an interview with the Associated Press.

Ramírez said the photo of her son Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his daughter Valeria on the banks of the river “was tough, it’s kind of shocking.”

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“But at the same time, it fills me with tenderness. I feel so many things, because at no time did he let go of her,” she told the AP.

She told the news service that she had lived with her son, his wife Tania Vanessa Ávalos and 23-month-old Valeria on the outskirts of San Salvador, El Salvador, before Óscar and his family made the decision to go north for better economic opportunities.

“I told him, ‘Son, don’t go. But if you do go, leave me the girl,’” Ramírez said. In response, however, she said her son said “No, mamá, how can you think that I would leave her?’”

Óscar on Sunday swam with Valeria from Matamoros to the Brownsville, Texas, side of the Rio Grande. He turned back to swim across the river for Ávalos, but Valeria tried to follow behind, after which the river swept them away. Ávalos was unharmed.

“I would say to those who are thinking of migrating, they should think it over because not everyone can live that American dream you hear about,” Ramírez told the AP. “How much I would like to have my son and my granddaughter here. One way or another, we get by in our country.”