This week marks Pope Francis’ arrival in the United States. With him comes messages of tolerance, compassion, and liberty, reminding us the ideals upon which this country was based. Inspired by his journey and message, a group of women took a pilgrimage from a Pennsylvania Immigration Detention Center to Washington, DC to advocate for immigration reform and demand dignity and justice for migrants. This march, known as “100 Women 100 Miles,” began on September 15th, and concluded in DC on September 23rd, coinciding with Pope Francis’ arrival. The goal was to combine the faith and efforts of the immigrant community to motivate the Pope to speak on their behalf, to encourage Congress to show compassion and respect for refugees and undocumented individuals.
100 diverse immigrant women pushed themselves to take this journey, sharing their stories, bringing awareness to the human aspect of our immigration crisis. Their families have been torn apart, they are not able to adequately provide for their families, and they are losing hope. Many came to United States in order to keep their family together, yet live in fear of constant separation. These women walked for their families, for their communities, for their 11 million undocumented brothers and sisters who face the same challenges they do. They walked for 8 days, each step begging to represent being one step closer to fixing our broken immigration system.
“100 Women 100 Miles” was met with great support during its pilgrimage to DC. Churches provided food and lodging for the women throughout their journey. Many of the participants’ stories have been shared on social media and in the news. The movement even picked up momentum along the way, with bystanders and supporters joining the march along its route. As the walkers arrived at McPherson Square, their final DC location, they were greeted with cheers and applause. Each participant was given a white flower. Catholic priests blessed the women’s feet with holy water. The walkers were celebrated for their successful pilgrimage and continued struggle for immigrant justice.
We Belong Together, a prevalent sponsoring organization of “100 Women 100 Miles”, has announced that they plan to do more of these marches to raise awareness. The goal is to do a walk on the 11th of every month, for 11 months, honoring the 11 million undocumented people living in the United States. Each one of those people deserves justice and respect. Each one of those people has a story to be heard. They are more than a number; they have names, and faces, and families.