Time Magazine released an arresting cover depicting a crying young girl who was, seemingly, one of the kids separated from her parents at the border.
The problem? It was all a big lie.
Denis Javier Varela Hernandez, the father of two-year-old Yanela who appeared on Time’s cover, said that his daughter was never separated from her mother–and that’s doing “fine.”
But he slammed his estranged wife, Sandra, for being “irresponsible” for taking their daughter illegally to the United States in the first place, something that was done without his knowledge.
Varela Hernandez said his wife took their youngest child to America in order to achieve “the American Dream.” Sandra had also crossed illegally into the United States, and had been deported in 2013.
Sandra and Yanela were taken into federal custody in Texas.
Varela Hernandez said that he heard from friends that his wife that she had paid $6,000 to a smuggler to help her and Yanela cross the border.
“I don’t have any resentment for my wife, but I do think it was irresponsible of her to take the baby with her in her arms because we don’t know what could happen.”
“I wouldn’t risk my life for it,” he added. “It’s hard to find a good job here and that’s why many people choose to leave. But I thank God that I have a good job here. And I would never risk my life making that journey.”
In addition to Yanela, Varela Hernandez and his wife has three other children: son Wesly, 14, and daughters Cindy, 11, and Brianna, six. All of them remain in Honduras.
“The kids see what’s happening,” he told the site. “They’re a little worried but I don’t try to bring it up that much. They know their mother and sister are safe now.”