Jeanette Vizguerra, a Colorado community leader and mother, has led the fight against her own deportation for the past eight years. She is the mother of one DACA-recipient daughter, Tania, and three U.S. citizen children, Luna, Roberto, and Zury.
Jeanette Vizguerra (A# 089-826-036), immigrated to Colorado with her daughter and husband from her native México City, México in 1997 after her husband was threatened at gunpoint. Initially, Jeanette worked cleaning office buildings and became a member and later organizer of SEIU Local 105, where she fought for better pay and benefits for janitors. She joined Rights for All People, a local community organization, as one of its founding members, and worked to establish trust and relationship between the immigrant community and the police. She and her husband started a moving and cleaning company and eventually had three more US citizen children.
In 2009, Jeanette was placed into deportation proceedings following a routine traffic stop which resulted in a conviction in the Arapahoe County Court for M3 Attempted Possession of a Forged Instrument. The economic downturn had impacted the moving company and her husband had taken ill, so she was the only breadwinner for her family. In her immigration case, Jeanette applied for Cancellation of Removal, and became one of the first individuals in Colorado to publicly share the circumstances of her deportation case. Jeanette worked hard to inspire others with her courage and passion, but her case was denied by the Denver Immigration Judge on November 18, 2011.
On December 16, 2011, she appealed her case to the Board of Immigration Appeals. However, in September 2012, while her appeal was pending, Jeanette received a call from México that her mother was dying. Despite 17 years in the US and thousands of miles, Jeanette and her mother spoke weekly. There are no humanitarian visas or programs available for those circumstances and Jeanette decided she had to be at her mother’s side before she died. She flew to México the next day but, while she was in the air, her mother died. In departing, Jeanette withdrew her pending BIA appeal.
Seven months later, Jeanette returned to the United States to continue to care for her three U.S. citizen children, and on April 20, 2013 was apprehended by US Customs and Border Protection. On May 1, 2013 she pleaded guilty to one count of illegal entry under 8 USC 1325(a)(1) and was sentenced to one year unsupervised probation.
On June 7, 2013, Jeanette was released from ICE custody in El Paso, Texas under an Order of Supervision that ordered her to report to the ICE field office in Centennial, CO on July 10, 2013. She appeared, and was then ordered to check in a second time, on July 24, 2013. At that check-in, Jeanette was taken into custody. She filed an I-246, Application for Stay of Deportation or Removal for a period of one year, which was granted on August 8, 2013. Jeanette has fully complied with all terms of her Stay of Removal and received five extensions. On February 8, 2016, Jeanette filed a U-Visa application to USCIS as a victim of crime who cooperated with law enforcement officials in the prosecution of that crime.
Following the inauguration of President Donald Trump, on February 15, 2017, ICE denied Jeanette’s sixth Stay of Removal renewal application, and she entered into sanctuary at the First Unitarian Church in Denver, Colorado. She vows to remain until her immigration case is fully adjudicated. On February 24, 2017, USCIS granted a favorable prima facie determination in her U-Visa application, affirming that she was in fact a victim of a qualifying crime who was helpful to law enforcement officials, but ICE continued to deny to renew her Stay of Removal.
On January 30, 2017, U.S. Congressman Jared Polis (CO-02) introduced H.R. 752, a private bill that would also provide Jeanette with a path to permanent residency. On February 8, 2017, H.R. 752 was assigned to the Immigration and Border Security subcommittee. On March 9, 2017, U.S. Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) introduced S. 603, a private bill in the Senate that mirrors H.R. 752 and it also awaits a hearing in the Senate Judiciary committee.
Courtesy of Meyer Law Office