When the Associated Press published Julia Le Duc's photograph of a drowned Salvadoran man, Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez, and his 23-month old daughter Valeria, it sparked outrage on social media. According to Le Duc, Ramírez had attempted to cross the Rio Grande after realizing he couldn't present himself to U.S. authorities to request asylum.

But beyond raising awareness via Twitter and Facebook feeds, does an image like this one have the power to sway public opinion or spur politicians to take action?

As journalism and psychology scholars interested in the effects of imagery, we study the ability of jarring photos and videos to move people from complacency to action. While graphic imagery can have an immediate impact, the window of action – and caring – is smaller than you'd think.

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When more than 2,000 children were taken from their families at the border, Julie Schwietert Collazo found it increasingly difficult to sleep.

And as the spouse of a refugee, immigration issues were already intensely personal for her family.

One night, Schwietert Collazo was listening to the radio and heard an interview with the lawyer of a detained Guatemalan mother. Yeni Gonzalez had been separated from her three children at the border while seeking asylum.

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Writer and comedian Baratunde Thurston received a text at 10:55 p.m. Minutes later, he was out the door and on his way to New York's LaGuardia Airport.

"Calling our #HeretoStay Network! Youth & children separated from their families are arriving at LGA airport right now! Still being transported by American Airlines!! Meet us at terminal B arrivals right now!" read the text, sent from immigration advocacy organization United We Dream.

Thurston threw on a pair of pants, grabbed his external phone charger and passport, and caught a ride share to the airport. "Realized I left my Sharpies at home and my driver was like, 'I'm a mom. I always have crayons. Will that help?'" he recounts. "So I brought some crayons."

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