The 100 Women 100 Miles movement has reached Washington, D.C.
More women joined the march for fair treatment of undocumented immigrants and their families as it passed through Maryland this morning, with more than the total number of women and allies marching to greet Pope Francis as he arrived in the United States Tuesday afternoon hitting more than 150.
At the front of the group for much of the eight-day pilgrimage was Silvia Gonzalez, an undocumented mother from Mexico. Gonzalez put her daughter through four years of college, at the cost of more than $39,000, with the wages she earns from cleaning houses for $15 an hour.
Gonzalez told Refinery29 the pilgrimage, which began outside a detention center in Pennsylvania on September 15, is meant to send a message to more than just the pope.
"The pope has a powerful voice, even for those who are not Catholic," Gonzalez said. "He has focused on the plight of immigrants and he can touch many people's hearts, not just those of politicians. We are talking about all of the people who don't even know we exist, who don't know how we suffer. They don't know anything about our lives, because we are so far outside of their reality. I want people to know we exist and that we have the right to be treated like everyone else."
Samantha Herrera, 23, said she traveled from Texas to make the pilgrimage for her stepfather, who is undocumented.
"I'm here to walk 100 miles for my community, which is located on the southernmost border with Mexico," Herrera told Refinery29. "I'm walking to bring to light that my stepdad and all immigrants deserve to live with dignity and respect in this country."
Refinery29's Kaelyn Forde marched with the women as they make their way to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, where the pope is scheduled to celebrate a canonization mass on Wednesday. They will then hold a closing vigil at McPherson Square. Pope Francis arrived at Andrews Air Force base Tuesday afternoon for his first visit to the United States.
Follow along with live updates from the women as they log the final miles of their march: