Colorado Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO) said she hopes the naming of Jeanette Vizguerra, currently sheltering in a church in DeGette’s district to avoid deportation, to the “2017 TIME 100” would not only bring greater recognition to the immigrant rights leader’s achievements, but also help resolve her status and lead to a path whereby Vizguerra can remain in the United States legally.
“TIME was wise to name Jeannette to its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world because she leads by example at a time when immigrants are being demonized in this country,” DeGette said. “Jeanette has been a clarion voice for the rights of others, is widely respected in her community and, during her two decades here, has contributed to civil society in many ways. She should not have to face the threat of deportation. I hope this renewed and higher-profile interest in her situation will help lead to a just resolution.”
DeGette has been in contact with the Trump administration, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and Senator Michael Bennet, along with Vizguerra’s congressman, Jared Polis, about Vizguerra’s case. As an undocumented immigrant with a pending legal petition to remain in the United States, Vizguerra had received stays of deportation from Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials during the Obama administration. The most recent one expired in mid-February, just before Vizguerra was due for a check-in with ICE. She sought sanctuary in the First Unitarian Church and learned through her lawyers that ICE intended to deport her that day.
Vizguerra’s three youngest children – ages 6, 10, and 12 – were all born in the United States. She entered the country from Mexico in 1997 with her husband and eldest daughter, then age 6. That daughter, now grown, lives in the United States and has a work permit under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Jeanette’s attorney Hans Meyer, principal of the Meyer Law Office, PC, stated: “Jeanette Viguerra’s courage – as an immigrant, a mother, and a survivor of crime – to stand true against the nativism of the Trump administration serves as a humbling reminder of what the real American values of courage, dedication, and perseverance look like. She has been recognized by TIME magazine for doing what every other client in my office, and every immigrant in this country does daily: fight for her family, for her dignity, and for a fair shot in her immigration case. Under the Trump administration, ICE has metastasized into a rogue agency that ignores its own rules to advance a mass deportation agenda. Jeanette is a survivor of violent crime with a pending application for lawful U visa status, and she has private bills to legalize her status pending in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. It’s time for ICE to uphold its own guidance and immediately grant her a Stay of Removal.”
Meyer Law Office policy director Julie Gonzales added, “I’ve worked with Jeanette as an activist for a decade, and have been honored to serve as her paralegal in her fight against deportation for the past four years. I find myself constantly amazed by Jeanette’s determination and grace under even the most difficult of circumstances. This recognition is tremendously well-deserved – and it speaks volumes about ICE that they still haven’t found her worthy enough to merit a grant of her Stay of Removal.”