A 5-year-old girl became a national hero after she managed to break though Pope Francis' security operation on Wednesday to give him a personal letter detailing her fears of having her parents deported.
Los Angeles resident Sophie Cruz, who is the daughter of undocumented immigrants, somehow made her way through the crowd of thousands lining Constitution Avenue. She even snuck through the metal barriers before Secret Service agents noticed the tiny girl and stopped her in her tracks.
Fortunately, the girl's bright yellow T-shirt caught pope’s eye, who gestured for the guards to bring her to him for a papal kiss and blessing.
The heartwarming moment got even more emotional when Cruz handed the pontiff a bright yellow T-shirt that read: “Pope: rescue DAPA, so the legalization would be your blessing.” The gift was accompanied with a letter, pleading for the Francis’ intervention in her family's battle to stay in the United States – an issue many children in the United States can relate to.
The note, according to The Washington Post, called upon the 78-year-old leader of the Catholic Church to help her mother and father, as well as the millions of others who are in the U.S. illegally, to remain in the country so they can be with their families.
It also included a hand drawn image that read: “My friends and I love each other no matter our skin color.”
Cruz, who is a U.S. citizen, hopes her letter and gesture prompts the pope to “speak with the president and the Congress for legalizing all the immigrants” – including her parents.
“I believe I have the right to live with my parents, I have the right to be happy,” she said. “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.”
While Cruz’s effort highlighted one of the most important problems in the U.S., the entire feat wasn’t as unplanned as it may have seemed.
Alicia Flores, executive director of La Hermandad in Los Angeles, chose Cruz to approach the Popemobile after a similar plan worked in Rome involving another young girl. Raul Cruz, the girl’s father, agreed to let his daughter partake in the plan so the pope could hear their message.
“She lives it every day,” her father explained. “She sees family get separated, and we always tell her the truth when she asks why.”
The little girl rarely sees her father as he works many days from 4:30 p.m. to 3 a.m. in a L.A. factory, and she lives in a constant fear that her parents will be deported from the country they have come to call home.
When asked how she worked up the courage to approach the pope, the young girl had a simple and inspirational answer: “God made me like that.”