AP Photo/Alex Brandon
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
When you want to get your message heard, an impromptu meeting with the Pope may do the trick.
Sophie Cruz, 5, traveled from L.A. to Washington, D.C. with one lofty goal—to give Pope Francis a message. The self-described "American with Mexican roots" made the cross-country journey alongside her father, an immigrant from Guajaca, Mexico.
"Pope Francis, I want to tell you that my heart is sad and that I would like to ask you to speak with the president and the Congress in legalizing my parents because every day I am scared that one day they will take them away from me," Cruz told NBC News. Cruz's parents are both currently living in the country undocumented. Her father makes a living working in a "factory galvanizing pieces of metal."
AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Pool
DAPA is an executive action by President Obama's administration that aims to protect the parents of Americans and legal residents. A federal district court in Texas issued an order to have the program blocked—an example of public rejection of immigration reform that Cruz and the L.A. group La Hermandad are fighting to overcome.
After one unsuccessful attempt Wednesday to get beyond the barricades lining a parade for the Pope at the White House, Cruz's father lifted her on top of his shoulders. From the height, the Pope was able to spot her in the crowd and beckoned for her to come toward the popemobile.
A secret service agent hoisted the child up to the pontiff as he blessed her and kissed her on the cheek. In exchange, Cruz offered the Pope an envelope containing a letter and a drawing of the Pope surrounded by children of different races with the caption, "My friends and I love each other regardless of the color of our skin." The youngster also gave the pontiff a T-shirt reading, "Papa Rescate DAPA," which means "Pope, Rescue DAPA," in English.
"They deserve to live with dignity. They deserve to live with respect. They deserve immigration reform," Cruz wrote in her letter to Pope Francis. "Don't forget about the children or anyone that suffers because they don't have their parents because of war, violence and hunger."
Cruz's serendipitous meeting the Pope fell one day before his scheduled address on Thursday before a joint session of Congress, including Speaker of the House John Boehner and Vice President Joe Biden.
Talk about perfect timing!