*Update, 9/25/2015: Post title has been updated, with “toddler” changed to “child” to accurately reflect the terminology for the child’s age group.
In what has been one of the most blogged-about moments of Pope Francis’ historic visit to the United States, a five-year-old Latina from California crossed the police barricade in Washington, D.C. yesterday to deliver the Pope a personally-significant and nationally-resonant message.
Sofia Cruz of South Gate, California, managed to make it past the blockade that separated the crowd from the pope’s signature shielded car (a.k.a. the “Popemobile”). Pope Francis spotted her and asked a Secret Service agent to bring her over.
Cruz carried a yellow t-shirt whose Spanish-language lettering translated to ”Pope: Rescue DAPA so the legalization would be your blessing,” referring to President Obama’s executive action (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents) that would add additional deportation protections for millions of undocumented immigrants with U.S.-born children. She gave the pope the shirt and a personal letter before he hugged and blessed her and she was escorted away to her father, Raul.
Raul and Sofia Cruz were in D.C. with members of their church to advocate for immigration reform. ABC News reported on the Spanish-language content of the letter:
“Quiero contarte que mi corazon esta triste por el odio y la discriminacion haicia los immigrantes de este pais,” Sophie wrote, which translates to: “I want to tell you that my heart is sad about the discrimination of the immigrants in this country.”
In her letter, Sophie asks Pope Francis to speak to President Obama and Congress about immigration reform.
“[Immigrants] are good people, they work hard in the fields…like my dad, who I barely get to see,” Sophie writes. “I ask that they stop deporting our parents because we need them to grow and be happy.”
Sophie concluded: “I have hope that this pain will come to peace.”
She also drew a picture for Pope Francis with the caption, “My friends and I love each other and the color of our skin is not important.”
Francis, the first pope from the Americas, has made a name for himself by advocating for various humanitarian and justice causes during his tenure.