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Little girl passes barricade to share message with Pope Francis

WASHINGTON - A girl who was handed up to the pope during Pope Francis' parade in Washington shared a message about immigration.

Alicia Flores of La Hermandad, an immigration advocacy group, says the girl is Sophie Cruz.

Sophie got beyond a barricade and approached the popemobile Wednesday morning, carrying a T-shirt bearing a message about the status of immigrant parents of children born in the United States. She also carried a letter addressed to Pope Francis that bore her name and address in suburban Los Angeles.

Sophie shied back when a bodyguard came near. But when the pope gestured to her, she allowed the bodyguard to pick her up and bring her forward for a papal kiss and blessing. A guard passed the shirt and message into the popemobile.

The pope arrived in Washington on Tuesday, beginning his first trip to the U.S. in his lifetime.

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Pope Francis waves to the crowd as he rides in a popemobile along a parade route around the National Mall on in Washington, D.C.

Allison Shelley/Getty Images

On Wednesday morning, he was formally greeted by President Obama at the White House and made his first remarks on U.S. soil.

Francis started his speech by saying, "As the son of an immigrant family, I am happy to be a guest in this country -- which was largely built by such families."

Following the ceremony at the White House, the pope embarked on a parade through some of the capital's most well known streets. He rode in the popemobile -- a specially built, unarmored Jeep Wrangler.

Along his route, as he often does, the pontiff periodically stopped to bless babies and children.

Many of those who gathered to view the pope's parade were brimming with enthusiasm about the moment.

Following the parade Wednesday, he gave a speech to U.S. Bishops at the Cathedral of St. Matthew in downtown Washington, D.C. In his address, he spoke on behalf of immigrants, saying, "Do not be afraid to welcome them... I am certain that, as so often in the past, these people will enrich America and its church."

Immigration was an issue many Catholics hoped the pope would address while in Washington, where a partisan fight over what to do with undocumented immigrants has reached a tipping point.

"We want the pope to be our voice when he goes to talk to the president and congress," Maria Lira, a 51-year-old woman who traveled to D.C. from a detention center in York, Pennsylvania to see the pontiff and who is originally from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, told CBS News. "We are tired of seeing the abuse and deportation of immigrants."

The pontiff will celebrate an outdoor mass later Wednesday at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Northeast D.C.

On Thursday, he'll address a joint session of Congress, and then he'll head to New York to address the United Nations and commemorate the September 11 terror attacks. On Saturday, he'll head to Philadelphia, his last stop in the U.S.