Despite all our modern technologies, a still photograph remains the most powerful influencer on our individual senses and emotions. With a still photograph, we get to create our own narrative of what happened in the moments before or after the photo was taken. We get to build a story that is influenced itself by not only what is in the picture, but by that which is already in our own minds or hearts. We can use a photo to validate our own ideas and in turn, influence others to see the image the way we do.

The week, a gruesome photo was circulated that made it to the front page of the the New York Times, depicting a dead father and daughter lying face down in the mud on the banks of the Rio Grande. The father and 2-year-old girl were from El Salvador and trying to migrate to the United States. It was an image seen around the world as the graphic illustration of the crisis at our border. Indeed, the photograph was tragic: A toddler tucked under her dad's shirt, her tiny arm around his neck, the two having drowned on their journey to flee whatever danger they left in El Salvador and in the quest to find something better within the borders of America.

But with all images, there is more than one narrative to see. Most of us saw tragedy. That narrative is certainly there. I also saw an image of love. Love of a father to a daughter. I saw an image of pursuit. Pursuit of freedom and opportunity. I saw an image of desperation. The desperation of a man willing to risk everything literally everything to leave his home country. I wondered what horror, what levels of starvation or crime and danger must exist in El Salvador for a man to take such a risk and put his daughter in such a fateful situation.

What I didn't see is where this is America's fault.

As the photo spread across traditional and social media platforms, politicians jumped to do what politicians do best politicize a tragedy. That kind of opportunism should trouble our collective sense of humanity as much as the photograph does. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi referred to the photo as the "face of America around the world" and indicated she hopes the image changes the current administration's stance on immigration, declaring the U.S. is ignoring its "obligations to humanity." The Congressional Hispanic Caucus, made up of 38 Democrats, said the father and daughter were "dead because of Trumps cruel policies."

Democratic presidential candidates politically piled on. Former HUD Secretary Julian Castro used Twitter to say, "We need a more sensible, compassionate immigration system that doesnt criminalize desperation." California Sen. Kamala Harris said of the image, "This is inhumane" and called it "a stain on our moral conscience." New Jersey Sen. Corey Booker said, "These are the consequences of Donald Trumps inhumane and immoral immigration policy. This is being done in our name. Former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke was the most direct, "Trump is responsible for these deaths." President Trump isn't without scolding on this front. He got into the blame game responding to the image with "I hate it" before adding, "I know it could stop immediately if the Democrats change the law.

Would someone, Democrat or Republican, please tell me what policy in the United States would stop desperate people from violent, impoverished, corrupt, hopeless nations from trying to flee to the land of opportunity? What law could be passed that would prevent the deaths of a father and daughter crossing a raging river to get from Mexico to the nation of freedom and prosperity? Completely open borders and no immigration laws? A bridge over the Rio Grande with a welcome sign and no regulation when immigrants get here? Opportunists of tragedy, please tell me what the United States did or did not do to cause these horrific deaths.

Born and raised in middle class, small town America, I simply cannot fathom what this family was fleeing from in El Salvador. I cannot imagine what would be so horrid that would put this father in the position of making the nearly 2,000-mile trek north with a child and other family. Most Americans simply cannot understand the harshness of life in a place like that. That doesn't make the conditions in that Central American nation, nor its neighbors who all seem to be in a horrific place, our fault, or responsibility. I believe in asylum here and I believe in immigration. It is simply impractical, however, to presume we should just open the "gates" with no laws, controls or rules to any who wish to come to America. It is simply political posturing to say, short of that, we could have done anything to stop what happened to this father and child.

Finally, one year ago today, June 30, I married the funniest and most wonderful man in the world. Happy anniversary to my husband and congratulations to everyone everywhere who share in any kind of love.

Alicia Preston is a former political consultant and member of the media. Shes a native of Hampton Beach where she lives with her family and three poodles. Write to her at