Haunting Photo Of Drowned Father And Baby At U.S. Border Shocks The World

WARNING: Graphic images.

A photograph of two drowned migrants from El Salvador migrants, a father and his 23-month-old daughter, have sent shockwaves around the world -- and is being taken as a potent image of the crisis at the American border that is seeing children locked up in stifling detention centres described as "concentration camps".

The bodies were discovered on Monday. They were thought to have had drowned whilst attempting to cross the Rio Grande river from Mexico into Texas. Baby Valeria,  is shown tucked into the t-shirt of her father Óscar, with her lifeless arm draped over her his shoulders.

Photo: AAP

The image was captured by journalist Julia Le Duc, and published in Mexican newspaper La Jornada.

The young family, including the 25-year-old father, his wife Tania and Valeria  left El Salvador in April, according to local reports.

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They had arrived in the border city of Matamoros last week with the intention of applying for asylum in the U.S. However, they were told by officials that the bridge was closed -- so the family is believed to have tried to swim across the river instead.

Martínez and Valeria reportedly made it across the river,  but when they were swept away when the father tried to help his wife.

Why this photo has become representative of the horrors at the U.S. border

The photograph has become a burning image of the hardships experienced by migrants trying to cross the border.

The photograph has been compared to images of drowned Syrian refugee boy Alan Kurdi, discovered on a Turkish beach in 2015 after his family tried to cross the Mediterranean Sea. Others have compared the horror to the image of Phan Thi Kim Phuc, otherwise known as the 'Napalm girl' who was captured in a 1972 photograph fleeing a bombing during the Vietnam war.

Baby Alan on the shore of Bodrum, southern Turkey, on September 2, 2015 after a boat carrying refugees sank while reaching the Greek island of Kos. Photo: Getty Images.

In recent weeks, several bodies were discovered in the Rio Grande valley -- a woman with two babies and a child dead from heat exposure, adding to three children and an adult who drowned after their raft overturned.

But these aren't the only tragedies occurring at the America-Mexico border. President Donald Trump has taken a stance of deterring migrants from attempting  illegal crossings, criminalising the practice, putting migrants in detention centres, and separating children from parents.

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There are reportedly as many as 2000 children in detention, despite the Border agency not being equipped to properly hold any children at all. There are up to 18,000 people in border detention nationally.

"When we have 4000 in custody, we consider that high. 6000 is a crisis," a Customs and Border Protection official told media in June.

There have been multiple deaths whilst in custody this year. The Southern Border Communities Coalition report nine deaths under Border Control custody so far this year, including a two-year-old and a 16-year-old from Guatemala.

Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez claimed the detention facilities housing immigrant children at the border were "concentration camps" -- which set off a political firestorm.

"I want to talk to the people that are concerned enough with humanity to say that 'never again' means something," she said.

Ocasio-Cortez did not make the direct comparison to concentration camps used during the Holocaust but she defended this comment, originally made by Liz Cheney, on Twitter, saying that the "horrors of the Holocaust went beyond the use of concentration camps, yet camps were part of the process."

The issue has been under scrutiny for months, but has reignited in recent weeks as images emerged of migrant children sleeping on the concrete floors of detention facilities, wrapped in foil blankets. Children are meant to only be held in this type of detention for a maximum of 72 hours before being handed to welfare officials, but many are reportedly being held for many days or weeks.

Startling reports from centres have told of dirty children forced to sit in soiled clothing, with inadequate and filthy facilities. Public attorneys turned whistleblower, shedding light on how children as young as 10 are being forced to care for younger detainees, due to the lack of attention from officials.

Groups of children with hair lice are being given shampoo, told to look after each other, and share lice combs.

Lawyers for the Department of Justice argued recently that soap and toothbrushes were not necessary amenities to provide for these children according to American law.

“The care of children by children constitutes a betrayal of adult responsibility, governmental responsibility,” psychoanalyst Gilbert Kliman told the AP.