LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A 10-year-old Panorama City girl got her prayers answered Saturday during an emotional reunion at LAX with her dad.
The girl, Jersey Vargas, had gone to the Vatican with a group who met with the Pope hoping to get the pontiff to speak to President Obama to move on immigration reform.
Her father, Mario Vargas-Lopez, had been held in a Louisiana detention facility. He’s an undocumented immigrant who was in custody in Tennessee for a DUI since last September.
Before Jersey left with the delegation, she told Associated Press, in Spanish, that her big wish was for her dad to come home. A relative saw Jersey on TV making her plea to the pontiff and helped with his $5,000 bond, according to AP.
Brittney Hopper, reporting for KCAL9, was at LAX Saturday for the emotional reunion between father and daughter.
“It was very emotional,” Hopper reported, “lots of crying, lots of hugging.”
Their reunion was two years in the making. Prior to being detained, he went to Tennessee to work and send money back to the family in California.
“It was the best thing ever,” Jersey said, choking back tears, “I didn’t celebrate my birthdays because my dad wasn’t with me. I’ve been waiting for him.”
No one thought the little girl would actually get to speak with the Pope. Two days later, Pope Francis met with President Obama for the first time. And one day after that, Vargas was released from federal custody.
Today Jersey flew into LAX from Rome.
“I don’t have the words to describe of the actions that she was able to do,” Vargas-Lopez said, through an interpreter.
His immigration status is still up in the air. But, for now, at least he is out.
“I feel very proud because I had been fighting for him for a very long time,” said Jersey.
The little girl has big ambitions — she told Hopper she hopes to get into politics one day so she can fight for immigration issues.