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“Every Step You Took Was A Prayer”: 100 Women Complete 100 Mile Journey For Immigrant Families

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100 women and their supporters ended their 100 mile walk at McPherson Square in Washington, D.C. last night, over one week after starting their trek at a detention center in York, Pennsylvania.

The women — many embracing and in tears as they walked into the square to the sounds of cheers and applause — began their walk to call attention to immigration reform and the plight of the migrant and refugee as Pope Francis arrives to Washington, D.C. for his historic visit.

As they entered the square, each woman was handed a single white flower. Many carried signs calling for compassion for the immigrant and refugee, and others carried religious figures or were holding their small children.

It was impossible to not be moved by the images.

“Our hope is really that our act of love and faith and sacrifice and the Pope’s words will touch hearts of Americans across the country to open their homes and communities to migrants and refugees, and make sure that we’re treating them with compassion and not with cruelty,” said Andrea Mercado, co-chairwoman of We Belong Together.

Their journey has not been in vain. At the White House earlier today, Pope Francis addressed immigration in the very first sentence of his first speech on American soil:

“I am deeply grateful for your welcome in the name of all Americans. As the son of an immigrant family, I am happy to be a guest in this country, which was largely built by such families.”

Many of the women from the 100 mile walk were present at the White House event, and others will be at the Capitol lawn for the Pope’s historic address to Congress on tomorrow, Thursday.

They continue to hold out hope that Pope Francis’s message of dignity and compassion for the immigrant can help change the toxic rhetoric from Republican lawmakers and candidates who have refused to find a permanent solution for our nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants.

As one immigration advocate told us yesterday about Pope Francis: “We know he has the power to move hearts.”