'I felt sad, I was scared, I wanted to cry': woman from viral tear gas photo shares her story
The story behind the iconic photo taken during the gas attacks at the U.S. Mexican border over the weekend tells a deeper story.
On November 25, a Reuters photojournalist, Kim Kyung-Hoon took a picture of a migrant woman from Honduras. He captured the moment she ran from tear gas with her twin daughters in front of the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico, in Tijuana.
.@ReutersPictures captured the moment Maria Meza fled with her children to escape tear gas on the U.S.-Mexican border. This is the story behind the photo: https://t.co/rzpyIly57V pic.twitter.com/p9IPWmiJKa— Reuters TV (@ReutersTV) November 27, 2018
The photo has since become somewhat iconic of the event, capturing the essence of what transpired and has featured on the front page of many newspapers and widely shared across the internet.
The photo shows the fearful woman looking back at the smoke while running in the opposite direction with a daughter in each hand while the border wall, wire fencing, and other running migrants seen in the background.
Central American migrants, Honduran mother Maria Meza, 5-year-old twin daughters Cheili and Saira, 13-year-old daughter, Jamie. After traveling 2 months, goal Louisiana, where girls' father lives. Kim Kyung-Hoon @reuterspictures #border #CentralAmericahttps://t.co/AhdUZWbziv pic.twitter.com/yYD4YGAc3w— Blue Honey (@devans00) November 27, 2018
Read more on our Twitter account @amomama_usa.
The Honduran woman has since been identified as 39-year-old Maria Meza and spoke up about her experience and her reason for risking both her and her children’s safety at the border as they seek asylum.
After patrol agents fired tear gas at migrants by the San Ysidro border, Meza felt “sad” and said: “I was scared. I wanted to cry.” Meza added:
“That’s when I grabbed my daughters and ran. I thought my kids were going to die with me because of the gas we inhaled.”
Meza, a mother of five, added that they were not trying to cross illegally and were looking at other members across the border when the agents launched the tear gas. She and her children are now back at their encampment in Benito Juarez Stadium in Tijuana.
Maria Meza aims to reunite her family with their father and said:
“I hope God will help me enter the US with these kids because we’re suffering. I’m a single mother who wants to provide for my children.”
The Trump administration tear gassed asylum seekers yesterday. Last week it tried to ban them.— Southern Poverty Law Center (@splcenter) November 26, 2018
This racist xenophobia is dangerous, and it has to stop. https://t.co/6fS4LF62hS
It is the first time that Kim, the photojournalist, cover the migrant story in Mexico and feel that the truth and the stories of what unfolds there should be shared. For him, the viral picture he took became the chance for more people to think about migrant issues.
According to U.S. authorities tensions have mounted in recent days as thousands of Central American migrants arrived in a caravan camped out on a Tijuana sports stadium.
On Sunday, Mexican police broke up a protest that triggered a rush toward the U.S. border. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers responded to nearly 500 migrants trying to cross the U.S. border ‘in a violent manner’ by throwing canisters of gas to regain control over the border crossing.
Trump urges Mexico to send migrants home, repeats call for wall funding https://t.co/mnqNsTMO5Z— CGTN (@CGTNOfficial) November 26, 2018
The country’s busiest border crossing closed for traffic in both directions for several hours until the situation got under control.On Monday, November 26, Donald Trump responded to the happenings over the weekend by demanding that Mexican authorities send migrants back to their respective countries in a comment he posted to Twitter:
“Mexico should move the flag-waving Migrants, many of whom are stone cold criminals, back to their countries. Do it by plane, do it by bus, do it any way you want, but they are NOT coming into the U.S.A."
The Mexican Government vehemently denied that any agreement with the Trump administration got made with regards to allowing Migrant Caravans to wait in Mexico while their asylum requests are processed. The Trump administration stated that the vast majority of asylum claims are legally insufficient and fraudulent.
.@realDonaldTrump has vowed the asylum seekers would not easily enter the country and on Monday threatened again to shut down the US-Mexico border, which stretches 2,000 miles (3,200 km).https://t.co/ghkto9sIpP— WION (@WIONews) November 26, 2018