Discussion of news topics with a point of view, including narratives by individuals regarding their own experiences

In times of harrowing trauma, sometimes the faces of children tell us the whole story. Over the past few days, one image seems to have captured the brutal act of separating children from parents just moments before it happens.

She’s a 2-year-old girl from Honduras, standing behind her mother at the border between the United States and Mexico. She looks up at immigration officials, crying hysterically. It’s all she can do.

John Moore, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer, was on assignment snapping pictures of asylum seekers crossing the border when he came across the little girl and her mother in a group. Officials conducted a body search on the mother, who had been traveling for a month with her daughter, Moore told CNN.

A Honduran mother holds her 2-year-old as U.S. Border Patrol as agents review their papers near the U.S.-Mexico border in McAllen, Tex., on June 12. (John Moore/Getty Images)
A Honduran mother holds her 2-year-old as U.S. Border Patrol as agents review their papers near the U.S.-Mexico border in McAllen, Tex., on June 12. (John Moore/Getty Images)

“When they went to body search her ... they asked her to put down her child,” Moore said. “And right then, in that moment, the little girl broke into tears.”

“I think the families there had no idea that they would soon be separated from their children,” Moore added.

A 2-year-old Honduran asylum seeker cries as her mother is searched and detained near the U.S.-Mexico in McAllen, Tex. (John Moore/Getty Images)
A 2-year-old Honduran asylum seeker cries as her mother is searched and detained near the U.S.-Mexico in McAllen, Tex. (John Moore/Getty Images)

The images of children in the midst of trauma have been able to tell international stories otherwise buried in the news. I think of the uproar over the solitary image of the little Syrian boy whose body lay on a European beach. His photo became a rallying cry in the refugee crisis. I remember the shell-shocked boy covered in dust and blood in the back of a Syrian ambulance, his neighborhood bombed by enemy planes. What has and what will become of this little girl now?

With the separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border, hundreds of children are being taken from their parents and placed into separate facilities, potentially even tent cities in the middle of the Texas summer.

Moore said he had to stop to collect his emotions after he finished photographing the asylum seekers. He later made more photos available from his reporting trip, but it’s just a small fraction of the hundreds of immigrant families facing the same trauma as the little girl did: According to the Department of Homeland Security, 1,995 children were taken from their parents at the border between April 19 and May 31, the Associated Press reported last week.

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