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A Vatican Visit, Then Dad Freed from Immigration Detention

Mario Vargas-Lopez (L) and his 10-year-old daughter, Jersey (C), who traveled to the Vatican to plead with Pope Francis for help to prevent his deportation, talk to reporters after they were reunited at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, California, March 29, 2014. Mario Vargas-Lopez was free on bond from a detention center in Louisiana three days after his daughter delivered her message to the pope. He was reunited with his family in Los Angeles on Friday. DAVID MCNEW / Reuters

After a 10-year-old girl traveled to the Vatican to plead with Pope Francis for help as her father faced deportation, her dad, Mario Vargas was released on bond from immigration detention, and the family had a tearful and emotional reunion in Los Angeles.

The father was freed from a Louisiana detention center on Friday after posting $5,000 bond on Friday. A relative who saw the girl on television pleading with the pope during a public audience helped with the funding, said his wife, Lola Vargas. Authorities later said the father was in the process of being released.

The daughter, Jersey, of Panorama City, Calif., had addressed the Pope as part of a 16-member delegation that traveled to urge the Vatican to talk to President Obama on immigration reform. The President and the Pope met last week.

Juan Jose Gutierrez, an immigrant advocate who coordinated the trip to Italy, said the archdiocese of Los Angeles helped get the group a key spot so they could speak with Pope Francis amid the crowds.

"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."

--The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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