By Vatican News
“With immense sadness, the Holy Father has seen the images of the father and his baby daughter who drowned in the Rio Grande River while trying to cross the border between Mexico and the United States.”
Alessandro Gisotti, the ad interim Director of the Holy See Press Office, gave that statement Wednesday in response to journalists’ questions.
“The Pope is profoundly saddened by their death, and is praying for them and for all migrants who have lost their lives while seeking to flee war and misery,” he added.
Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez, 25, and his daughter Valeria, 23-months-old, drowned in the Rio Grande River on Sunday, as they attempted to reach the United States.
The lifeless bodies of the two migrants from El Salvador washed ashore on the Mexican side of the border, in Matamoros, in Tamaulipas state, across from Brownsville, Texas.
They were found on Monday just one kilometer from an international bridge.
A reporter for La Jornada, Julia Le Duc, said Mr. Martinez Ramirez arrived in Matamoros on Sunday with his wife, Vanessa Avalos, and daughter, Valeria.
The reporter witnessed Mrs. Avalos give her account to the police.
She said the family had hoped to request asylum from US authorities but that Mr. Martinez Ramirez decided to swim across when he found out it could take weeks before they could even start the process.
“He crossed first with the little girl and he left her on the American side. Then he turned back to get his wife, but the girl went into the water after him. When he went to save her, the current took them both,” Le Duc told the Guardian.
Dozens of people have died already this year attempting to cross the Rio Grande – known as the Rio Bravo in Mexico.
On Sunday, two infants, a toddler, and a woman were found dead from heat exhaustion in Anzalduas Park, in the southern Texas city of Mission.