Girl, 5, gets papal kiss, requests blessing for immigration reform

A 5-year-old girl in a brilliantly colored dress and braids who was handed up to Pope Francis for a blessing during a parade in Washington on Wednesday morning asked the pontiff to give his blessing to immigration reform and push lawmakers to act.

Sophie Cruz of South Gate, California, delivered a bright yellow T-shirt and a letter expressing wishes that her mother and father and millions of others who are in the U.S. illegally are allowed to remain in the country. Her trip was sponsored by an advocacy group.

“I’m scared that the ICE will take my family away,” Sophie said in an interview, referring to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Sophie got beyond a barricade and approached the popemobile, carrying the T-shirt that read in Spanish: “Pope: rescue DAPA, so the legalization would be your blessing.” It refers to a program called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans, which would extend deportation protections to parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have been in the country for some years, but is on hold after 26 states sued to block it.

Sophie shied back when a bodyguard came near. But when the pope gestured to her, she allowed the bodyguard to pick her up and bring her forward for a papal kiss and blessing. A guard passed the shirt and message into the pope- mobile.

Sophie went to Washington with her 36-year-old father, Raul, who like her mother, came to the U.S. from Mexico’s southern state of Oaxaca about 10 years ago. Sophie and her sister were born in the U.S. and are therefore American citizens.

Poll finds Americans lukewarm about Francis’ secular activism

Americans love Pope Francis and his forgiveness agenda, but they’re less enthusiastic about the judgments he’s making about secular issues such as the debate over climate change and income inequality, according to a new Bloomberg Politics poll completed on the eve of the pope’s arrival for his first visit to the United States.

The survey gave Francis a 64 percent favorability rating, considerably higher than those of all the U.S. political leaders the poll asked about.

The pope is admired by a majority of all ideological, generational and religious groups: 86 percent of Catholics approve of him but so do 55 percent of born-again Christians and 58 percent of American who adhere to no religion.

“I think he’s giving the Catholic Church a new perspective, that it doesn’t have to be so rigid, said Lydia Becker, a 59-year-old Catholic who works as a dental assistant in Homestead, Florida.

On climate change, though, just one-third of those surveyed are supportive. And, they’re also lukewarm about the pope’s activism against economic inequality.

The survey of 1,001 U.S. adults was conducted Sept. 18-21 for Bloomberg Politics by Selzer & Co. of Des Moines, Iowa. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

– From news service reports

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