Meet 8-Year-Old Latina Immigration Activist Sophie Cruz Who Is Changing The Conversation On Immigrant Rights
It’s a scary time right now for immigrants in the U.S., and nobody feels that more profoundly than 8-year-old Sophie Cruz, daughter of undocumented parents.
You’ve probably already heard of her from when she made international headlines when she handed the Pope a heartbreaking letter entrenched in her fear of ICE. She was just five years old then. Latina girls may just change the world.
Sophie Cruz is an American citizen of Oaxacan heritage.
Her parents came to the U.S. without documentation from Oaxaca, Mexico. She has a little sister, who, in the photos, hilariously seems pretty stoic about her hermana’s stage presence.
It all started on September 23, 2015, when she made it past the barricades to get to Pope Francis.
She was desperate to hand him a letter to beg for help for her undocumented parents. He stopped the parade to give her a blessing and a hug.
They are why she was so desperate to make it past what the NYT called “one of the largest mobilizations of security officers in American history.”
They had all traveled from Los Angeles to see the pope with an immigration activist group called the Catholic Delegation for Reform.
Security eventually stopped her but the Pope saw her run out from the crowd and invited her to come closer.
Her courage and determination didn’t happen on a whim. She truly hoped to meet the Pope to ask for his help.
“Pope Francis, I want to tell you that my heart is very sad, because I’m scared that one day ICE is going to deport my parents.”
The letter she eloquently shared with the Pope goes on to say, “I have a right to live with my parents. I have a right to be happy. My dad works very hard in a factory galvanizing metals. Immigrants like my dad feed this country. They therefore deserve to live with dignity, they deserve to be respected, they deserve immigration reform, because it would be beneficial to my country, and because they have earned it working very hard, picking oranges, onions, watermelons, spinach, lettuce, and many other vegetables.”
Oh and also, she wrote:
“Don’t forget about us the children…”
“Don’t forget about us the children, or about those who suffer because they’re not with their parents because of war, because of violence, because of hunger.”
She even gave the Pope this muy bella drawing.
That super colorful dress and girl with the braids is how Sophie Cruz sees herself. Nos encanta.
The next day, the Pope brought up the issue with Congress.
He had a joint meeting scheduled the next day with the United States Congress, and he took the opportunity to encourage more openness for immigrants and refugees. Five-year-old Sophie Cruz changed the Pope’s agenda.
The next year, she was invited to speak at the Washington Women’s March.
At this point, she was just 6 years old and speaking in front of tens of thousands of people. 🤭She began with this touching moment, “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.”
She gave her speech in both English and Spanish. 😭
She went on to say, “I also want to tell the children not to be afraid because we are not alone. There are still many people that have their hearts filled with love and tender to snuggle in this path of life.”
“Let’s keep together and fight for our rights. God is with us.”
When she started speaking in Spanish, her mom just straight up started weeping.
Cruz became the face of DAPA, and sat in Supreme Court hearings to consider protections for parents.
Beforehand, she spoke in front of five thousand immigrants, families and supporters in front of the Supreme Court. That said, her prominence has meant that she’s had to do a lot of this without her parents.
She met with President Obama and Joe Biden.
Her parents couldn’t pass background checks to enter the White House because of their status, so she went with documentary filmmaker Paola Mendoza. When Cruz isn’t speaking into a microphone to advocate for immigrants, she’s subtly wearing mariposas on her meet-POTUS dress in homage to migrants.
In October 2016, she submitted a question for the Presidential debate.
The question read, “If you deport my parents, what happens to me? I am 6 years old and an American citizen. I have a 3-year-old sister who is also an American. My heart is very sad, because I’m scared that ICE is going to deport my undocumented mommy and daddy.”
The question was not aired.
Even though she’s more than a decade away from being able to vote, she wants you to get the vote out.
Also, we must comment on her repping Oaxacan indigenous clothing in the cutest possible way, always.
Cruz has become a political icon for immigration activists.
And there is a ton of artwork on the Internet to prove it. She’s the muse for hope for change.
The San Jose Museum of Art recently created a mural in her honor in October 2018.
Define American named her “Activist of the Year” in 2018.
Caption: “Sophie Cruz is our Activist of the Year for her advocacy for undocumented families.” Get it, girl!
The county of Los Angeles has even awarded her for her activism.
Politician Hilda Solis invited Cruz to share her message in front of the County Board of Supervisors. Cruz deserves all these awards and more.
What Cruz really deserves is to feel like her family is safe.
And while her parents have not been deported, likely due to the public outcry at this point, they could be legally deported at any time. Sophie needs us all to dig deep past the exhaustion and hopelessness and unearth a passion like hers to create a safer future for all our kids.
Thank you, Sophie. You’re our hero.