Girl gives letter to pope, fears her parents will be deported

Video courtesy of Joe Reblando via YouTube

WASHINGTON — The delivery of a crayon-scrawled letter to Pope Francis by 5-year-old Sophie Cruz may have been the most memorable moment of Francis' first full day in the United States. But it was no chance encounter.

Sophie, whose father lifted her over the barricades as Francis paraded down the Ellipse, told CBS and other news outlets that she gave the pope the letter and illustration as a means of delivering a message:

"Pope Francis I want to tell you that my heart is sad. And I would like to ask you to speak with the President and the Congress in legalizing my parents because every day I am scared they will take them away from me," Cruz told CBS News.

Sophie said she is an American citizen, but her parents are both undocumented immigrants from Mexico. The family lives in California and traveled to Washington, D.C., with members of their church as part of an organized advocacy push for immigration reform.

In Sophie's interview with CBS, she answered most questions about her embrace with the leader of the world's 1 billion Catholics with one- or two-word answers. Asked about immigration, she delivered long, seemingly memorized responses about why her parents and other immigrants deserved to stay in the United States.

Religion News Service graphic by T.J. Thomson

Religion News Service graphic by T.J. Thomson

The child's father, Raul, speaks very little English, but did say he was "surprised and happy" that his daughter was able to get so close to Pope Francis, and he told CBS he hoped that the pope would talk to Congress about helping immigrant parents like himself remain in the country.

Francis opened his remarks at the White House on Wednesday by referencing America's immigrant history. The Vatican has not tipped its hand as to what Francis may say in front of a joint meeting of Congress on Thursday.

The Cruz family hopes its simple message on Wednesday might lead him to say more about immigrants' plight.

(Garrett W. Haake writes for WUSA-TV, Washington.)


  1. Oh, the sad ironies.
    This poor child is worried her family might be deported – and rightly so. WHY?
    Because….The Christian Right Wing Republicans and Christian Evangelicals from the Bible Belt have spearheaded and funded the most aggressive anti-immigrant politics in decades. All in an effort to disenfranchise the Democratic constituency and lessen the power of the immigrants already here.

    Christian influence on the US Government caused this problem. And this poor child turns to Christian leader for help? Completely heartbreaking.

    Jesus can be recruited for good or evil – which is the whole problem with this wretched philosophy! Instead of turning to Jesus why don’t we just try to solve these problems as human beings and give this child’s family a decent chance to live in America?

    We need to stop expecting religion to solve our obvious problems.

  2. A child should be concerned when his or her parents break the law and endanger a child. Actions have consequences. Maybe the Roman Church should clean up things back in the old country where the family came from so that nation becomes a fit place for its own citizens to live and raise a family.

    The US does not even care for those who are legal residents. We are not in a position to take on Latin America’s economic migrants who have few skills to offer our economy and only keep wages low and working conditions poor for all low skilled workers in the US.

  3. Come back to us when you have some understanding of the nature of immigration law. Actions have consequences but some consequences are draconian in relation to the actions. People who talk about upholding laws they know nothing about are dangerously silly. Such behavior is what one expects in a dictatorship, not in a country where laws must serve a common good.

    Our economy has a hunger for illegal alien labor. Donald Trump as a real estate developer certainly owes much of his fortune to their efforts. Illegal aliens are not taking jobs away from citizens. In states where they tried gestapo-like tactics to drive illegal aliens away, employers could not find people willing to take the work they left. The best way to keep them from depressing wages and working conditions is to get them documented and legal. But that doesn’t pander to xenophobia and racism in the same way that nonsense pronouncements of mass deportations do.

  4. When living overseas, I understood fully where I could go and where I could work. Nothing hard to figure out. I also studied labor law and economics and there is a concept of supply and demand. Flood the market with Illegal immigration and there are low wages, bad working conditions, breeding grounds for criminal activity, and poverty that begets poverty. Every country regulates who can come in it, what those visitors can do and under what circumstances.

    Employers who hire illegal aliens should be punished with draconian measures such as public humiliation, stiff fines and jail time. It would be far more effective then any wall.

    If there is a truly a shortage of laborers (not imposed because an employer refuses to raise wages to attract legal residents, comply with labor laws or pay payroll taxes). Then look at some temporary work visas after it is firmly established an employer has aggressively tried to hire legal residents at living wage rates

  5. Security for the female child – an urgent need across our Planet.

  6. Most of the world doesn’t really get immigration. Outside of the US, Canada, The UK and Australia, most nations do not even have a real naturalization process. The rest of the world are examples of how not to do things. The US has the best track record for absorbing and integrating its immigrant population in the world.

    Anyone who thinks the solution to illegal alien labor is harsher punishments for the immigrants is delusional. 50 years of doing so has done nothing but create an underground economy. There is no way we can make conditions here worse than the crappy nations these people came from.

    The system needs reform. Penalties need to be proportional to the offense. Make illegal overstay subject to a stiff fine. The deed gets punished, people with some means get to stay. We lose the ability for employers to exploit fears of ICE to build a near slave labor system.

Leave a Comment