With Deep Sorrow, CWS Holds Administration Responsible for the Drowning of a Toddler and Her Father

June 27, 2019

For Immediate Release: June 26, 2019

Contact: Bilal Askaryar; media@cwsglobal.org; 202-750-0960

With Deep Sorrow, CWS Holds Administration Responsible for the Drowning of a Toddler and Her Father

Washington D.C. – Rev. John L. McCullough, President and CEO of CWS, a faith-based humanitarian organization representing 30 million Christians across the United States through  37 protestant, Anglican, and Orthodox communions, issued the following response to the shocking image of a father and his young child who drowned while trying to reach safety in the United States:

“23-month-old Valeria was still tucked into her father Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez’s shirt when their bodies were discovered on the banks of the Rio Grande on Monday. A photograph of the two has sparked sorrow and outrage across the globe. Something is profoundly wrong with our nation’s laws when vulnerable families fleeing insecurity die at our doorstep.

Tania Vanessa Ávalos did not lose her husband and daughter to the Rio Grande, she lost them because this administration enacted policies that are designed to dehumanize migrants, project cruelty, and make a dangerous journey even more deadly. Make no mistake – this administration’s policies are designed to have this precise impact.

I am reminded of the poem “Home” by Warsan Shire, and struck by these words “no one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark… you have to understand, no one puts their children in a boat, unless the water is safer than the land.”

This horrific photograph underscores what is already clear: if families are willing to risk their safety to seek protection in the United States, it must mean the only other option is near certain death. The time for radical compassion is now.

We demand that Congress stop the administration’s intentionally deadly anti-asylum and anti-immigrant policies. Stop turning away asylum seekers. Stop separating families. Stop detaining children. Stop militarizing the border. We need policies that affirm each person’s humanity and treat all children the way we would treat our own and not leave them to die in the desert or force them to risk their lives in the river. In this moment, we will be judged by how we treat migrants at our doorstep. I pray we choose life over death.”

Since 1946, Church World Service has supported refugees, immigrants and other displaced individuals, in addition to providing sustainable relief and development solutions to communities that wrestle with hunger and poverty. Learn more about our work and join our global homebase for refugee solidarity atGreaterAs1.org.