Here's background on Vizguerra as originally reported by Melanie Asmar, a longtime Westword staffer and current contributor.
Vizguerra and her husband came to the United States from Mexico for safety reasons after he was held up at gunpoint three times while working as a bus driver there. Here, the couple owned a moving and cleaning company. But the income wasn't enough, especially after Vizguerra's husband was diagnosed with cancer. So Vizguerra took on more jobs, sometimes working twenty hours a day.
In 2009, she was pulled over by a police officer as she was leaving one job and on her way to apply for another. The officer's first question to her was, "Are you legal or illegal?"
She was arrested and ended up in deportation proceedings. After a series of delays, her case ended in an appeal in 2012.
The following August 8, Vizguerra was released and given a six-month stay of deportation, and another one followed the next year. Since then, her status has been tenuous. She currently has a pending application for a U-visa that would allow her to remain in the U.S., but with reports of immigration crackdowns taking place across the country during the early days of the Trump administration, she has now taken refuge at First Unitarian, the church that also provided sanctuary for Arturo Armando Hernandez Garcia, another undocumented immigrant whose story was told in this space.
Since Vizguerra went into sanctuary, she has gotten support from a number of prominent Colorado politicians, including Senator Michael Bennet.
"Jeanette has been pursuing a legal avenue to remain in America for several years," Bennet said in a statement. "Since 2011, our office has worked with her to navigate our immigration system in order to keep her family together. The fear she expressed today embodies what immigrants across the country are feeling. This is yet another reminder that our immigration system should line up with our national priorities."
Hans Meyer, principal of the Meyer Law Office and Vizguerra's longtime attorney, has similarly harsh words for the current president. "By denying Jeanette's stay of removal, ICE made it abundantly clear that they had no intention of respecting longstanding guidelines calling for specific action when processing stay of removal applications for individuals with pending U-visa claims," Meyer notes in his own statement. "The Trump administration is bullying a victim of crime and a mother of four. Jeanette’s case is Exhibit A in the brutality of Trump’s immigration enforcement plans, plain and simple.”
Meyer adds, "We offer our thanks to the good people at the Metro Denver Sanctuary Coalition, American Friends Service Committee, elected officials who have spoken out in support of her case, and all of Jeanette’s loved ones and friends. Most importantly, we extend our deepest gratitude to Jeanette Vizguerra herself. It is an honor to work for justice alongside you."
And now, that effort is earning attention on a much wider scale.