The Honduran father of a little girl pictured crying at the U.S. border with Mexico, which Time magazine and other publications have used to portray the outrage of separating families, and a Facebook campaign raised $18 million regarding, has said that the presented context of the photo is false. The girl was never separated from her mother.
Denis Javier Varela Hernandez told DailyMail.com on Friday that his wife, 32-year-old Sandra, took their young daughter, 2-year-old Yanela, to the U.S. border despite his protests.
Sandra was deported from the U.S. in 2013 after she entered the U.S. illegally under the Obama administration, and recently left her three other children behind in an attempt to cross again, seeking better economic opportunities.
Hernandez said that while his wife and Yanela have been detained at a family residential center in Texas, they are together and doing "fine."
"You can imagine how I felt when I saw that photo of my daughter. It broke my heart. It's difficult as a father to see that, but I know now that they are not in danger. They are safer now than when they were making that journey to the border," the father said.
Hernandez insisted that despite media portrayals otherwise, his wife and daughter were never separated at the border.
The cover itself was also criticized as exploitative.
"I see it as an insensitive and exploitative play to sell magazines — and one that, albeit unintentionally, offers up this personal tragedy to be memed and ridiculed," photojournalist Kainaz Amaria wrote for Vox.
On Thursday, Time published it's latest cover, featuring two separate photos of President Donald Trump and the crying girl together in front of a red background, with the caption, "Welcome to America."
The photo of the girl was taken by John Moore, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer for Getty Images.
"This one was tough for me. As soon as it was over, they were put into a van. I had to stop and take deep breaths," Moore said, noting that the girl was crying as her mother was detained by border agents.
"All I wanted to do was pick her up. But I couldn't."
Meanwhile a major fundraising campaign on Facebook, organized by RAICES, an immigration legal services provider in Texas, has raised over $18 million as of Friday morning, using the photo of the girl above the call to "reunite an immigrant parent with their child."
"This fundraiser started with the hope of reuniting maybe one family, but it grew. It grew so big that it couldn't be ignored. It grew to a community, to a place that will help all families separated," the group states.
"And it's groups like this and people like you that are responsible for progress in a matter of days, so that mothers and fathers can hug their children again."
Following a major outrcry against news that as many as 2,000 children were taken from their parents who entered the country illegally, including from several Christian groups, Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday meant to end the parental separations.
"We're going to keep families together but we still have to maintain toughness or our country will be overrun by people, by crime, by all of the things that we don't stand for and that we don't want," Trump said at the time.
Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, praised the order.
"Glad to see that the Administration is listening to Americans on the moral atrocity of separating children from parents at the border. This is a good first step. Now let's fix this system. We can have security while still showing compassion to those fleeing violence," Moore wrote on Twitter.
Pastor Robert Jeffress, head of First Baptist Dallas Church, and a longtime evangelical Trump supporter, challenged Democrats to also care about unborn children, however.
"President @realDonaldTrump is ending the separation of children from their parents at the border. Will hypocritical Democrats now put an end to the ULTIMATE separation of children from parents — abortion?" the megachurch pastor asked in a tweet.