Donald Trump slams Democrats for telling 'phony stories of sadness and grief' after it's revealed crying tot in iconic photo 'WASN'T separated from mum'

The US president claimed the party had concocted tales from the US-Mexico border to make hay in November's midterm elections and attack his immigration policies.

Writing on Twitter on Friday, he said: "We must maintain a Strong Southern Border. We cannot allow our Country to be overrun by illegal immigrants as the Democrats tell their phony stories of sadness and grief, hoping it will help them in the elections.

"Obama and others had the same pictures, and did nothing about it!"

It comes after the dad of a crying Honduran girl who became the symbol of the US immigrant crisis said his daughter was never separated from her mum.

Time magazine used the image, taken by photographer John Moore, next to a picture of a towering Trump on its cover this week with the words "Welcome to America".

It said in a correction to a story written earlier about the photograph that "the girl was not carried away screaming by US border patrol agents.

"Her mother picked her up and the two were taken away together."

It's not clear how the error occurred but Time decided to use the photo for its memorable cover even after it learned about its mistake.

Edward Felsenthal, Time editor-in-chief, said the photo "became the most visible symbol of the ongoing immigration debate in America for a reason.

"Under the policy enforced by the administration, prior to its reversal this week, those who crossed the border illegally were criminally prosecuted, which in turn resulted in the separation of children and parents.

"Our cover and our reporting capture the stakes of this moment."

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said it was "shameful" that Democrats and the media exploited the photograph to push an agenda.

Sanders tweeted: "She was not separated from her mom. The separation here is from the facts."

The photo spread widely as the discussion heated up of Trump's since-reversed policy of separating parents who are caught illegally crossing into the United States from their children.

The government's policy of not allowing photographs of children being detained heightened the impact of pictures about the immigration issue.

The girl's picture, along with an audio file of crying children that was given to reporters at ProPublica, helped galvanise public opinion against the administration's policy.

The photo was taken on June 12 by Moore, who was on patrol with US border officials when they encountered the girl's mother, identified as Sandra Sanchez.

The girl was crying as officials searched Sanchez, who US Immigration and Customs Enforcement said on Friday had been previously deported from the United States once before.

Mr Moore said: "At no point did I ever say that the girl and her mother had definitely been separated but at the time I took the photo that was a very real possibility even for young children.

"I think I've been very clear from the start that the mother and daughter were taken away in the van together but that we didn't know what would happen to them."

Mr Moore said it wasn't until he found out from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that he knew they weren't separated.

The agency confirmed Sanchez is being housed at one of the government's three existing family detention facilities at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas.

The border patrol agent who picked up Sanchez, Carlos Ruiz, told CBS News that "they're using it to symbolise a policy and that was not the case with this picture."

In Honduras, the girl's father, Denis Varela, said he hadn't heard from his wife or daughter in almost three weeks, and that Sanchez took their daughter to the States without telling him.

He said the Honduran foreign ministry also told him that his daughter is detained with her mother and the two have not been separated.

Varela, a dockworker who lives in Puerto Cortes, Honduras, said that the ministry gave him the girl's detainee identification number a couple of days ago.

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