Pope Francis talks about the dignity of work. His message has drawn workers to Washington.

16 "Pilgrims" pushing for immigration reform and economic justice

Pope Francis has arrived in the United States, and working people who support the pope’s messages — from inequality to immigration — have arrived in Washington, where the pontiff will spend the next two and a half days before heading to New York and Philadelphia.

Among the hundreds of thousands who want to see the pope are 16 “Pilgrims” who are part of the push for commonsense immigration reform as well as the Fight for $15 movement. All of them are members of the Roman Catholic Church that the pontiff leads, and they have been inspired in recent years by the messages of hope that resonate in the context of their campaigns for justice and solidarity.

“We hope the ‘People’s Pope’ encourages Congress to put people over politics. The time is now,” said SEIU International Executive Vice President Rocio Sáenz at an event featuring SEIU and Mi Familia Vota welcoming the Pilgrims this afternoon. “(The pope) will talk about love for immigrants. He will talk about compassion… When he talks, it’s going to hopefully open the hearts and minds of leaders.”

“As a human race, we can be excited” about Pope Francis’ visit regardless of our religion or lack thereof, added SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry, because he is focused on issues that matter to working men and women.

The Pilgrims themselves echoed that sentiment. “There are millions of women... living in poverty (despite) working full-time. That’s wrong," said Antoinette Quintyne, a member of 1199SEIU, who expressed her hope that Pope Francis would call attention to the need for decent wages.

Elsewhere:

For updates on the Pilgrims’ journey with the pope and other events tied to the visit of Pope Francis to the United States, follow @SEIU and #PeoplesPope on Twitter.

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