A 10-year-old girl from Panorama City traveled to the Vatican to ask that Pope Francis talk to President Obama about immigration reform during their Thursday meeting.
Jersey Vargas’ father had been in the United States since he was 16, but was detained after he was caught driving without a valid license, Vargas said.
“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,” Vargas said.
Vargas traveled to the Vatican with the Catholic Coalition for Immigrant Rights and San Gabriel Mission Church to deliver letters from children with undocumented parents written to the pope, according to The Tidings, published by Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez.
Vargas wrote her own letter on her birthday, and said her birthday wish was for her father to come home. It was the second one he had missed.
“This is a very important day and my dad is very meaningful to me and it has been so long that he hasn’t been with me,” Vargas wrote.
Vargas struggled to make her way through the crowds of people vying for the pope’s attention on Wednesday, but she was able to tell him her story, she said.
Pope Francis told her, “I will talk to President Obama about it,” and Vargas gave him 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,” Vargas said.
Immigration attorney, Alex Galvez, said Vargas’ father is currently in removal proceedings for deportation.
“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.
Vargas is talented and driven, according to her elementary school principal, Cara Schneider.
“She looks at this as a chance to speak out for the millions of kids who are in the same situation that she’s in,” Schneider said.