Photo of tragic drowning. Will it unite or divide?

Jun 26, 2019, 9:12 PM | Updated: Jun 27, 2019, 6:47 am
migrant border refugee asylum gang DACA photo...
This July 26, 2018, file photo shows people lining up to cross into the United States to begin the process of applying for asylum near the San Ysidro port of entry in Tijuana, Mexico. (Credit: Gregory Bull, AP)
(Credit: Gregory Bull, AP)

Disclaimer: the following is an opinion piece and does not necessarily reflect the views of KSL or its ownership.

A horrific photo shows an El Salvadoran father and his 23-month-old daughter drowned on the banks of the Rio Grande as they tried desperately to cross into the United States.

It’s a photo that’s so troubling, we have put it at the end of this article. If you don’t want to see it, stop scrolling now.

Does the photo galvanize or weaponize a tragedy? If it moves us to act to solve this catastrophe at the border, then that’s a good use of a horrible situation.

But it if just weaponizes the political debate and exasperates the wedge issue, the endless fundraising on both sides of the aisle, then the debate doesn’t move forward on the issue of illegal immigration.

Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who is the Homeland Security chairman, got it right.

“I don’t want to see another picture like that on the US border,” he said. “I hope that picture alone will catalyze this Congress, this Senate, this committee, to do something.”

But Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer did not.

President Trump’s “actions at the border are a whirlwind of incompetence leading to pictures like this,” the New York Democrat said on the floor of the Senate. “So, President Trump, if you want to know the real reason there’s chaos at the border, look in the mirror. The president continues to blame Democrats, but the real problem is the president.”

That takes us nowhere. Schumer trying to blame Trump for the deaths of this father and his daughter is not how business gets done. That’s pointing fingers, shows a lack of leadership and doesn’t move the debate forward.

In turn, Trump said, “The asylum policy of the Democrats is responsible because they will not change the policy.”

Again, finger-pointing and a lack of leadership.

Instant certainty tells us exactly what we need to know about any issue in order to blame the other side. To use it as a cudgel to beat our political opponents over the head. This is the culture of contempt.

I am convinced that 94% of this could be solved in an afternoon. Compromise is in sight because both sides agree on what needs to be done. But there are far too many people in Washington who want this to be a wedge issue and use it to raise money for political campaigns, rather than build a bridge and solve the problem of illegal immigration and prevent the type of tragedies captured in a horrible picture of a father and daughter drowned in the Rio Grande.

That is everything that’s broken in D.C. We have to move beyond the weaponizing of important issues such as illegal immigration, and as citizens, expect more from lawmakers.

migrant photo immigration A father and daughter lie face down in murky waters littered with reeds and discarded beer bottles. Their heads are wrapped in a black T-shirt — her tiny right arm draped over his shoulders. Photo: Julia Le Duc/AP

Boyd Matheson is the opinion editor of the Deseret News.

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Photo of tragic drowning. Will it unite or divide?