Washington D.C., Sep 24, 2015 / 11:50 am
Sophie Cruz travelled from Los Angeles, across the United States, with her father and two uncles to try to hand a letter Pope Francis this week. Her dream came true on Wednesday when the popemobile stopped for the child, and she was given the most tender embrace of the day.
While Pope Francis paraded on his popemobile toward the National Mall in Washington, D.C., Sept. 23, Cruz, 5, jumped a security barrier and was soon stopped by security agents.
But Pope Francis saw her and motioned for the agents to bring her to him. She was carried over to the Roman Pontiff, who gave her a hug, a kiss, and a blessing.
Cruz in turn gave Francis a letter she wrote, as well as the yellow T-shirt worn by the immigration reform advocacy group to which her father and uncles belong. She also included a drawing of Pope Francis joining hands with herself and other children, with a message in Spanish that reads: "My friends and I love each other no matter the color of our skin."
Cruz later recited the letter's contents, which she had memorized in English and Spanish, for reporters from The Guardian.
"I want to tell you that my heart is sad," Cruz began. "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."
She mentioned the hard farm and factory work immigrants do, and concluded, "All immigrants just like my dad help feed this country. They deserve to live with dignity. They deserve to live with respect. They deserve an immigration reform."
Cruz told reporters, "I feel blessed and very moved because this blessing isn't just for our family, it's for all the immigrant families, all the Latin American families."
Cruz was born in the United States, to parents who immigrated illegally from Oaxaca, Mexico.
Raúl Cruz, Sophie's father, told Telemundo, "We made a really long trip, a big sacrifice, we're migrant parents. Thanks be to God, to the faith we have, and the dream that we had, we were able to give the Pope a letter so he would intercede for all the immigrants, not just Latinos or Mexicans, but from all the countries. We are all the children of God."
The Cruz family were among a group of a dozen faithful who travelled from Our Lady, Queen of the Angels parish in Los Angeles to see the Pope in Washington, D.C.
As they hoped, Pope Francis has indeed advocated for immigrants while in the United States. The same day he met Sophie Cruz, he spoke to the country's bishops, praising them for their welcome of immigrants, "who continue to look to America, like so many others before them, in the hope of enjoying its blessings of freedom and prosperity."
And in his Sept. 24 address to Congress, he said, "I am happy that America continues to be, for many, a land of dreams," noting that many migrants have come to America with the desire to build and achieve their dream of a future in freedom.
"On this continent, too, thousands of persons are led to travel north in search of a better life for themselves and for their loved ones, in search of greater opportunities. Is this not what we want for our own children?"