In an interview with "Axios on HBO," acting director of Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli defended his response to a viral photo of a migrant father and daughter who drowned crossing the Rio Grande.

  • The photo, which showed the daughter's head tucked inside her father's shirt as they both lay face down in the water, struck a cord across America. The two, as well as the family's mother who'd been swimming separately and fled back to shore, had been traveling from El Salvador to the United States.
  • Cuccinelli drew pushback at the time for blaming the father for the drowning, saying that he should have waited to go through the asylum process.

What he's saying:

"The reality is, when you have a tragedy like that and let's make no bones about it, it's a tragedy whenever you — if there was just the father, it'd be a tragedy. But here you've got a father and a daughter. And we ask the question: Why did this happen and who's responsible? And that was the question asked of me. And first and foremost, that father is responsible for his own actions. And anybody who says otherwise, I would take issue with on the answer to the question. You can't just blame other people for a tragedy that he decided to undertake."
— Ken Cuccinelli to "Axios on HBO"

Cuccinelli said he was sympathetic to the human side of the case:

  • "The question about the young girl in the water, what do you think the first thing I thought of when I saw that picture was. It wasn't policy. It was my own children. You know, this is a very human. Every case has people involved. And it can be easy to forget that people have to deal with it on both sides."

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