Salvadoran president: 'It is our fault' migrant father and daughter drowned in Rio Grande

The president of El Salvador said his country was to blame for the deaths of a Salvadoran man and his daughter who drowned last week while trying to cross the Rio Grande into the United States, The New York Times reports.

“People don’t flee their homes because they want to,” President Nayib Bukele said Sunday during a news conference. “They flee their homes because they feel they have to."

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

ADVERTISEMENT

He added: “It is our fault … Why? Because they don’t have a job, because they are being threatened by gangs, because they don’t have basic things like water, education, health.”

Bukele’s comments come after a viral photo showed Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his 23-month-old daughter, Valeria, lying facedown in the Rio Grande. Ramírez had reportedly tried to swim across the river with his wife and daughter after his family was unable to request asylum in the United States.

The photo sparked widespread criticism of the Trump administration's immigration policies.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerOn The Money: Trump, Congress reach two-year budget, debt limit deal | What we know | Deal gets pushback from conservatives | Equifax to pay up to 0M in data breach settlement | Warren warns another 'crash' is coming Overnight Defense: Iran's spy claim adds to tensions with US | Trump, lawmakers get two-year budget deal | Trump claims he could win Afghan war in a week Trump, Democrats clinch two-year budget deal MORE (D-N.Y.) called on President TrumpDonald John Trump5 things to know about Boris Johnson Conservatives erupt in outrage against budget deal Trump says Omar will help him win Minnesota MORE to “look at this photo” and see that these “are people simply fleeing a horrible situation in their home country for a better life."

Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffPelosi, Democrats launch Mueller messaging blitz Mueller testimony could be frustrating for both parties Hillicon Valley: Equifax to pay up to 0M over data breach | Settlement invites criticism from lawmakers | Microsoft settles bribery case | Election security to take back seat at Mueller testimony MORE (D-Calif.) was among those who have blamed Trump for the deaths, saying the situation is a “product” of the president's immigration policy.

Trump, who said he hated to see the photo, placed blame on congressional Democrats. On Saturday, he said if his border wall had been built, father and his daughter, as well as so many others, “would be saved.”

The bodies of Ramírez and his daughter were returned to El Salvador on Sunday. They were buried in a private ceremony on Monday, the Times reported.