Donald Trump and Democrats blame each other over migrant father and daughter deaths at US border

  • Warning: This article and video contains an image that some may find distressing

US President Donald Trump and Democrats are blaming each other for the deaths of a migrant father and his toddler daughter.

The pair’s bodies have been seen in photographs, symbolising the perils faced by those trying to cross illegally into the US.

The harrowing harrowing image shows a drowned Salvadoran man and his nearly two-year-old daughter, face down in shallow water along the Mexican side of the Rio Grande.

Oscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his nearly two-year-old daughter Valeria were found in Matamoros, Mexico on Monday, after they drowned trying to cross the river to Brownsville, Texas.

Mr Martinez' wife, Tania, told Mexican authorities she watched her husband and child disappear in the strong current.

The bodies of Oscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his daughter Valeria lie on the bank of the Rio Grande in Mexico. Credit: AP

Speaking with reporters as he left the White House for a four-day trip to Asia, Mr Trump said he was disturbed by the images.

But he said the deaths could have been prevented and castigated Democrats for failing to pass legislation he claimed would stop people from trying to make the dangerous trek.

He said: “If we had the right laws, that the Democrats are not letting us have, those people, they wouldn’t be coming up. They wouldn’t be trying.

“They can change it very easily so people don’t come up and people won’t get killed.”

In a tweet the US President also blamed the Democrats, saying they could "save many lives if they would change out broken and very dangerous immigration laws".

When asked about the picture Mr Trump said: “I hate it. And I know it could stop immediately if the Democrats change the law.

"They have to change the laws.

"And then that father, who probably was this wonderful guy, with his daughter, things like that wouldn’t happen.”

Mr Trump has blamed the Democrats Credit: AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Both the Senate and House has approved separate legislation to provide funding for the care of migrants streaming into the US, but the bills have yet to be merged and the next step is unclear.

Congressional leaders hope to send Mr Trump a compromise measure before members of Congress leave town for a July 4 recess.

Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer said: “Mr President, you are President of the United States.

"You are head of the executive branch.

"You control what’s happening at the border.”

Many Democrats vying to deny Mr Trump a second term responded, meanwhile, by spending the final hours before their party’s first primary debate in Miami visiting a detention facility for immigrant teenagers about 40 miles to the south-west in Homestead.

“There were children who were being marched like little soldiers, like little prisoners,” said senator Elizabeth Warren, who is running to be the Democrats' next presidential candidate, and who was not allowed inside but was permitted to look over the fence.

She added that she did not see children playing or laughing “like they usually do”.

Ms Warren said: “This is not what we should be doing as a country.

"These children committed no crime, these children pose no threat.”

Shortly after the image was released on Tuesday, the acting head of US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said he was resigning amid an uproar over the discovery of migrant children being held in pitiful conditions at one of the agency’s stations in Texas.

John Sanders’s departure deepened the sense of crisis and added to the rapid turnover inside the agencies responsible for enforcing President Donald Trump’s immigration priorities as the US deals with record numbers of migrant families coming across the southern border.

In a message to employees, Mr Sanders said he would step down on July 5. He did not give a reason for leaving.

Six children have died since September after being detained by border agents.