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Five-year-old girl delivers letter to Pope Francis on immigration

Pope Francis reaches from the popemobile as a child is brought to him along a parade route Sept. 23 in Washington. (CNS photo/Alex Brandon, pool)

Sophia Cruz, 5, broke past security to reach Pope Francis while he was on his motorcade in Washington DC to deliver a message on immigration.

The daughter of two undocumented immigrants, Sophia traveled from Los Angeles to meet the pontiff to beg him to keep her parents in the USA.

Unlike her parents, Sophia and her sister are American citizens.

Sophia’s father, Raul Cruz speaking at the time said: “She lives it every day. She sees family get separated, and we always tell her the truth when she asks why.”

Security tried to stop the little girl as she ran towards the popemobile as he passed her outside the White House, but she made it through on her second attempt.

Pope Francis motioned to the security team to let her through, where she handed him an envelope containing her letter.

The pope kissed her cheek accepting the letter, which read: “I believe I have the right to live with my parents. I have the right to be happy.

“My dad works very hard in a factory galvanizing pieces of metal. All immigrants just like my dad feed this country.

“They deserve to live with dignity. They deserve to live with respect.”

Sophia included a picture of the pope holding some children’s hands, with the words: “My friends and I love each other no matter our skin colour.”

Sophia said her hope is the pope can bring about change to USA’s immigration laws, adding she has another letter for President Obama.

She and her father wore t-shirts saying “Pope: rescue DAPA, so the legalisation would be your blessing,” Fox reported.

Earlier, Pope Francis spoke on the White House lawn introducing himself as a child of an immigrant.

Though Sophia’s actions were not just spur of the moment – La Hermandad, in Los Angeles, chose her to approach the pope after a similar plan worked in Rome involving another little girl.

Her father Mr Cruz, who traveled to the USA a decade ago, agreed to let his daughter take part in order to get across the wider message on immigration.

Sophia said she rarely gets to see her father, because he works long hours at a factory in LA. She added she lives in fear that he would be forced to leave their home and the country she’s grown up in.

He said: “The fathers and mothers of US born children live in complete uncertainty. I believe Pope Francis was sent by God.”

When asked by the Washington Post how she got the courage to run up to the pope, Sophia said: “God made he like that.”

Sophia wasn’t the only one who got to get a blessing from Pope Francis, security also picked babies from the crowd to bring to the pontiff.

At one point, his team handed him five-month-old Loukas Chavez, another son of immigrants from Virginia.

Chilean-born Mariajose Ovalle of Alexandria, Virginia, who was there with her 6-year-old son, Matias, said seeing popes in person was a vital emotional part of living her faith.

She saw Pope Benedict XVI in London, but her most memorable sight was St. John Paul II at his last World Youth Day, in Toronto in July 2002.

Even at a great distance, “you could feel his presence,” she said.

“He was frail, but he still did the tour (around Downsview Park). I was overwhelmed. I had tears, but I wasn’t sad.”

Protesters were in short supply.

Two of them – men holding placards proclaiming that both the pope and President Barack Obama were the Antichrist making secret plots – got more than they bargained for when they began shouting, “Turn away from your false religion!”

Police wouldn’t intervene in a free-speech matter that had not escalated beyond the verbal stage.

As if on cue, several Latinas stood, turned toward the men, held their rosaries aloft, and began singing, “Ave, ave, ave Maria, ave, ave, ave Maria.”