Clarification: The initial version of this story said the child depicted on Time's cover had been separated from her mother, based on the magazine's account. As The Washington Post and others have since reported, the child was not separated from her mother during their encounter with a Border Patrol agent. The story has been updated.
The information emerging about the child-parent separations on the border that resulted from the Trump administration’s harsh immigration policy set off a cascade of emotion in recent weeks. It has left a string of resonant images, videos, audio recordings and reports in its wake as people have sought to document the practice and see how it was being applied.
The latest additions to this growing body of documentation are magazine covers, which have re-emerged as potent social symbols in the highly charged media atmosphere that has characterized the Trump era.
Time magazine's cover used one of the images that has been most resonant in the past week, taken of a young girl crying as her mother was patted down by a Border Patrol agent before the two were detained.
Time took the image of the girl and juxtaposed it next to President Trump, whose hard-line immigration views, and reportedly, political calculations, drove the practice before he issued an executive order this week for it to halt.
“Welcome to America,” the cover says, as Trump looks down at the girl in tears.
The cover did not portray the president in a flattering light, to say the least.
Time wrote it selected the photo because of how powerful it was — though hours after the cover was published, the father of the crying girl told The Washington Post the child and her mother were not separated, an account confirmed by U.S. and Honduran officials.
That disclosure prompted a round of media criticism from the White House and other conservatives.
“It’s shameful that dems and the media exploited this photo of a little girl to push their agenda,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted Friday morning. “She was not separated from her mom. The separation here is from the facts.”
The original photo was taken by John Moore, a photojournalist for Getty Images who has spent years documenting the border, as well as wars and refugee crises around the world. Moore told The Washington Post this week about the hours he spent taking pictures of a group of families who crossed the Rio Grande into Texas at night last week and then were detained. He had asked a Honduran woman if he could follow her and her 2-year-old daughter as they were processed. They said yes. It was during that process he took the photo.
“The mother stoically had her hands against the vehicle, and the girl was crying,” Moore said. “Neither were saying words. Nothing could be said with her. She needed to be with her mother.”
But the father of the little girl said she and her mother were not, in fact, separated by U.S. officials.
As The Post's Samantha Schmidt reported, Denis Javier Varela Hernandez had seen Moore's photo in Honduras, where the family lives, and feared the worst.
But he learned this week that his wife and daughter were not, in fact, separated. The mother, 32-year-old Sandra Sanchez, was detained with her nearly 2-year-old daughter, Yanela, at a facility in McAllen Tex., Varela said.
The revelation prompted a correction from Time, which appended a note to its cover story, saying: “The original version of this story misstated what happened to the girl in the photo after she [was] taken from the scene. The girl was not carried away screaming by U.S. Border Patrol agents; her mother picked her up and the two were taken away together.”
Even before that news emerged, some criticized Time's cover.
“ ‘Welcome to America’ where print publications are losing so much revenue, they have to put photoshopped liberal propaganda on covers,” wrote conservative commentator Britt McHenry.
The New Yorker magazine’s cover also made a splash as it made the rounds on social media Thursday, though it was created with a different medium: a watercolor by the satirical comic artist Barry Blitt.
Blitt spoke a bit about the art of satire — how to use humor and when to back off it.
“Yeah, my first instinct is to try to make a joke, and it’s not always appropriate — though those are the moments when a laugh might be most appreciated,” he said. “Still, I’m not so far gone that I can’t tell when a gag isn’t the right response. And I’m always second-guessing myself anyway, so the process is messy and unappealing to talk about.”
Both Time and the New Yorker have made waves with many covers that reference Trump or his policies in the past two years.
Avi Selk, Samantha Schmidt and Kristine Phillips contributed to this report.