Pope Francis met with two Americans on Thursday -- one the leader of the free world, the other a 10-year-old girl from Panorama City.
Before Francis received President Obama at the Vatican, young Jersey Vargas delivered letters from children of undocumented immigrants, asking that the two leaders discuss immigration reform. Jersey's own father, who arrived in the U.S. at age 16, was caught driving without a valid license and is now facing deportation, KTLA-TV reported.
“My dad was the provider for my family and when I heard about my dad it really broke my heart because I would never think of my dad being away from me and I feel like I’m never going to see him again,” Jersey said.
Vargas traveled to the Vatican with the Catholic Coalition for Immigrant Rights and San Gabriel Mission Church to deliver the letters, according to the Tidings, published by Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez.
After struggling to make her way through the crowds of people vying for Francis' attention at St. Peter’s Basilica on Wednesday, she was able to personally deliver her message to the pope.
“My father is suffering,” Jersey said, according to the Tidings. “It’s not just, and other children in the United States are suffering just like I am.”
Francis replied, “I will talk to President Obama about it,” as Jersey gave the pope a handkerchief embroidered with two birds and a nest, the Tidings reported. The birds represent her parents, and the nest their home.
“Now that I talked to Pope Francis I feel much more assured because I finally completed my mission, telling him about my dad and also millions of other children are going through the same situation,” Jersey said.
Obama would later say that his 52-minute meeting with the pontiff was consumed by a discussion of "the poor, the marginalized, those without opportunity, and growing inequality."
Immigration attorney Alex Galvez told KTLA-TV that Jersey's father was in deportation proceedings.
“He didn’t have a license, but you know something? He was supporting his family, he was paying his taxes, he was doing everything to get his family ahead, for his family to achieve the American dream,” Galvez said.
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