John Moore's viral photo of "Crying Girl on the Border" wins World Press Photo 2019
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John Moore’s viral photo of “Crying Girl on the Border” wins World Press Photo 2019

Getty Images photographer John Moore won the prestigious World Press Photo contest 2019 for his viral photo titled “Crying Girl on the Border”

This picture was selected from 78,801 entries submitted by 4,738 photographers. This image was captured on June 12, 2018, and in the picture, we can see a 2-year-old Honduran toddler Yanela Sanchez crying as he and her mother are taken in into the custody by US border officials.

The description of the photo that was 1st placed in the spot news category by World Press Photo reads

“Immigrant families had rafted across the Rio Grande from Mexico and were then detained by US authorities. Sandra Sanchez said that she and her daughter had been traveling for a month through Central America and Mexico before reaching the US to seek asylum. The Trump Administration had announced a ‘zero tolerance’ policy at the border under which immigrants caught entering the US could be criminally prosecuted. As a result, many apprehended parents were separated from their children, often sent to different detention facilities. After this picture was published worldwide, US Customs and Border Protection confirmed that Yanela and her mother had not been among the thousands who had been separated by US officials. Nevertheless, public outcry over the controversial practice resulted in President Donald Trump reversing the policy on 20 June”.


A two-year-old Honduran asylum seeker cries as her mother is searched and detained near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. They had rafted across the Rio Grande from Mexico and were detained by U.S. Border Patrol agents before being sent to a processing center. The following week the Trump administration, under pressure from the public and lawmakers, ended its contraversial policy of separating immigrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. Although the child and her mother remained together, they were sent to a series of detention facilities before being released weeks later, pending a future asylum hearing.

The photo was prompt to go viral and widely published as a photo depicting the government’s family separation policy. The photographer Moore said in an interview “And these people really had no idea about this news. And it was hard to take these pictures, knowing what was coming next. But as a father – and I have a toddler myself. It was very difficult to see what was happening in front of my lens and thinking what it would be like for my kids to be separated from me.”

Later when it was cleared that the toddler was never separated from his mother, many photographers believed that Moore overstepped his role as a photojournalist.

After the truth behind it was revealed, the photographer said: “Oftentimes, immigration is talked about in terms of statistics, and when you put a human face and humanize an issue, you make people feel.” He added And when you make people feel, they have compassion. And if I’ve done just a little bit of that, then that’s OK.”

By winning the World Press Photo contest 2019, Moore is now a proud owner of 4 such awards. He has earlier won in 2005, 2008, and 2012.

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