Good news for immigration activist

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Jeanette Vizguerra hugs friends and fellow activists after announcing her year-long stay of removal in front of the ICE office in Centennial on Feb. 24.
Eric Leveridge AFSC

Jeanette Vizguerra has been fighting deportation for seven years. But last week she won a significant victory. On Feb. 17 she was granted a one-year stay of removal by the local Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office in Centennial, and on Feb. 24 she was notified her next ICE check-in won’t be until Feb. 17, 2017.

“In the past my stays have been of six months, and every time I have to renew it’s a lot of money, and it’s a lot of emotional stress,” she says via a translator. “This time, it’s for one year.” 

As Vizguerra told Boulder Weekly in August 2015, she immigrated to Colorado from Mexico City in 1997 because of increasing crime at home that was threatening her husband’s income. The mother of four and grandmother of three has been working tirelessly to stay in Colorado with her family ever since she was pulled over for dirty plates in 2009. Since then, she has been held in immigration detention and spent several months back in Mexico trying to see if she could support her family. Eventually, she has survived with six-month stay of removals that at times haven’t been renewed until after the previous one expired.

She has also been involved with public advocacy campaigns, speaking out against the treatment of immigrants in the detention center and petitioning for immigration reform.

She says the most recent stay of removal feels significant because the notification letter came from the local ICE office, instead of the national office in Washington D.C., within two weeks of her renewal application.

“In the past, we have not been getting support or justice coming out of the local office,” she says. “This is not just in my case, but in many other cases the local office has not been responsive, and we have had to take it to a higher level to the national office. And in this case the local office acted in the right way.”

She believes her public media campaign as well as a pending U Visa application accounts for the change in behavior by ICE. As a victim of a crime over 12 years ago, Vizguerra applied for a U Visa with her most recent stay application. If granted, it would give Vizguerra legal status in the U.S. and provide a path to permanent residency and even citizenship.

“It’s not just me, it’s my children,” she says. “They have suffered and fought along with me. It feels really good to know there is a possibility of getting the U Visa and having status. It gives me great hope.”

Vizguerra is uncertain about when she might hear about her U Visa application. However, she celebrates her most recent stay and hopes her case will encourage others to keep fighting for immigration reform, especially in this election year. Ultimately, she believes the system can be changed.

“For some people [a one-year stay] may not seem like that big of a deal,” Vizguerra says. “But for those of us who are fighting our cases these small important victories along the way are critical, and this is how we move forward.”

Jeanette Vizguerra celebrates with her kids, friends and supporters. Gabriela Flora AFSC
Jeanette Vizguerra celebrates with her kids, friends and supporters.
  • Alice Lanton

    She is not an Activist, She is just another Criminal illegal invader trying to Use the America taxpayer for her own selfish needs, Activist act on behalf of the law and for the benefits of the legal citizens. She stole federal ID from legal citizen. The fact that she was able to come back across the borders after she was publicly deported by ICE sends a send message that our borders need to be secured and a wall should be built and our immigration laws should be enforced.
    This is the same illegal immigrant female who was hiding the church in Chicago to avoid deportation. She had been arrested for stealing a U.S citizens’ Social security card and working under department labor laws felony lies. She had an 8 year old US anchor baby and was the first to campaign that ICE and the US. Laws were breaking up families. She stayed in the church for a year and then she travelled to LA to speak to other illegals who were hiding out tin churches, but as soon as her got the LA ICE arrested her and deported her back to México. While in Mexico she asked the Mexican government if she could become an ambassador for the other illegals who were
    living in the U.S , as a way to get back the U.S after her deportation.

    The Mexican government refused to appoint her, so she came back across the border illegally, but this time with her three year old daughter that was born in Mexico. She is not an activist and she is lying about her son bring in danger. She left her son, Saul, with the church leader and his Hispanic wife, so he wasn’t in any danger in Mexico. Also if she was in so much danger why did she have another child while she as in Mexico.
    She has since had another child in America, that she thinks will secure her illegal status to stay and get all the Taxpayer social services. If you are deported you cannot return to the U.S in 10 years, do why she is here and why she wasn’t immediately deported? She has been coached on what to say t