Sophie Cruz is a young American activist born in 2010. Her parents, Raul and Zoyla Cruz, are undocumented immigrants from the state of Oaxaca, Mexico. Sophie is fighting to ensure the continuance of the DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans) program which would allow her parents to remain in the United States legally. Currently, she is one of the youngest voices in the American immigration reform movement.
In 2015, when Sophie Cruz was five years old, Pope Francis visited Washington D.C. Sophie was born in the United States, but her parents are undocumented and could face deportation. She hoped to meet the Pope to deliver a note asking him to speak out for undocumented immigrants. That day, she wore a shirt printed with the words “Papa Rescate DAPA," urging the Pope to support the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans Act. When the Pope's car passed by, Sophie ran out into the street to see him but was turned away by security. However, the Pope had seen her run out from the crowd and requested to meet her. He hugged her, and she left her note with his attendants. Pope Francis addressed the issue at a joint meeting of the United States Congress the next day, encouraging greater openness for immigrants and refugees.
Cruz's trip to see the Pope was sponsored by La Hermandad Mexicana Transnacional, a Los Angeles-based immigration advocacy organization. In an interview, Cruz said: "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."
Meeting with President Obama
In May 2016, Cruz was invited to visit President Barack Obama at the White House for a Cinco de Mayo celebration. Because her parents were undocumented, they were not able to enter the White House, and instead, Sophie was accompanied by Alida Garcia from FWD.us and filmmaker Paola Mendoza. Mendoza had previously directed a short video, "Free Like the Birds," starring Sophie and her family that debuted in the Tribeca Film Festival. She appeared in the video "11 Million Stories" in partnership with FWD.us, which discussed the potential implications of national mass-deportation and how children like her, with undocumented parents, faced certain obstacles.
Woman's March on Washington
On January 21, 2017, Cruz was a featured speaker at the Women's March in Washington, D.C., in protest against the inauguration of Donald Trump. She said in her memorized speech, given in both English and Spanish, "We are here together making a chain of love to protect our families. Let us fight with love, faith, and courage so that our families will not be destroyed." Cruz's widely seen speech was called "powerful" and "inspiring," with one commentator saying that she had "captured hearts" with her performance.
In November 2016, Cruz had posted a question on PresidentialOpenQuestions.com, a forum allowing users to propose questions for the next presidential debate, asking candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton what would happen to her if her parents were deported, and she received over 37,000 votes. Her question ranked 20th the night before the second debate, high enough to be posed by debate moderators Martha Raddatz or Anderson Cooper, but ultimately was not asked.
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