A young girl from California delivered a message about immigration reform to Pope Francis on Wednesday and received a blessing in return for her efforts.
Sofia Cruz, 5, of South Gate, California, was attending a parade for the pontiff in Washington D.C., when she crossed the police barricade. The pint-sized girl was wearing a brightly colored dress and carrying a yellow T-shirt that read in Spanish "Pope: Rescue DAPA so the legalization would be your blessing," both of which likely caught his eye.
DAPA is the acronym for Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, President Barack Obama's executive action that would extend deportation protections to the parents of the approximately 5 million U.S. citizens as well as some permanent residents. The program is currently on hold until the courts determine its legality.
Once the pope spotted the girl and gestured for her to come forward, one of the U.S. Secret Service officers handed her to a bodyguard who then carried the girl to the vehicle to receive a papal hug and blessing.
The guard also placed the T-shirt and letter she carried into the pope's car before escorting her back to the crowded sidewalk along Constitution Avenue, The Associated Press reported.
Sofia and her father came to Washington with members of their church to ask Pope Francis to speak with Obama and members of Congress about helping immigrants, ABC News reported.
Her parents are both immigrants from Mexico, according to the Philly Voice.
"[Immigrants] are good people, they work hard in the fields...like my dad, who I barely get to see," Sofia wrote, per ABC News. "I ask that they stop deporting our parents because we need them to grow and be happy."
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