The daughter of a Mexican immigrant awaiting deportation who got to make her personal plea to the pope to let her father stay got her wish. Mario Vargas was freed from a Louisiana detention facility Friday.
Ten-year-old Jersey Vargas traveled to the Vatican with her church group to ask Pope Francis to speak with President Obama about reforming immigration policy and bringing her father home for good.
Vargas got to come home to California after the family posted $5,000 bond. His wife, Lola Vargas, said that a cousin who saw the girl’s televised plea helped her fund the bond.
"When she left, her wish was that her father would be home," she told The Associated Press in Spanish. "Thank God she is going to get her wish."
Vargas had traveled to Tennessee to find construction work, sending money back to his family. But in the two years since getting picked up by immigration authorities for driving under the influence, Jersey’s mother has held the family aloft.
"I haven't seen him in two years," Jersey said. "It's been very hard since my dad hasn't been home. My mom has had to be the provider for my family, she's been the mother and father for two years."
The archdiocese of Los Angeles helped the group navigate a spot along Pope Francis’s route of blessings, according to Juan Jose Gutierrez, the immigrant advocate who organized the trip.
An immigration judge will decide Vargas’ final fate, according to ICE spokesman Bryan Cox.
"Him being released on bond in no way translates into special action on his behalf," Cox clarified. "This was standard procedure."