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Jeanette Vizguerra: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

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Jeanette Vizguerra in the First Unitarian Society Church of Denver in Denver, Colorado, on February 16, 2017. (Getty)

Jeanette Vizguerra, an undocumented mother who has been taking refuge in a Denver church for the past few months, has been named one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

TIME Magazine’s profile of Vizguerra was written by actor and activist America Ferrera, who said that Vizguerra’s inspiring life stands in contrast to the rhetoric President Donald Trump has used to describe undocumented immigrants.

“The current Administration has scapegoated immigrants, scaring Americans into believing that undocumented people like Jeanette are criminals,” Ferrera said. “She came to this country not to rape, murder or sell drugs, but to create a better life for her family. She shed blood, sweat and tears to become a business owner, striving to give her children more opportunities than she had. This is not a crime. This is the American Dream.”

So who is Jeanette Vizguerra, and what is her story? Here’s what you need to know.


1. She Came to the United States Illegally in 1997 & Worked as a Janitor

Jeanette Vizguerra church, Jeanette Vizguerra first unitarian society church, Jeanette Vizguerra denver church

Jeanette Vizguerra in the First Unitarian Society Church of Denver in Denver, Colorado, on February 16, 2017. (Getty)

Jeanette Vizguerra came to the United States illegally in 1997 with her husband and six-year-old daughter.

According to The New York Times, Vizguerra began working when she came to the U.S. as a janitor and a union organizer.

Vizguerra says that she and her husband came to the United States looking for a better life.

“[W]e came because my husband, who was working as a chauffeur for a bus company, had been —had suffered three kidnapping experiences while driving the bus,” Vizguerra told Democracy Now.

Over the next several decades, Vizguerra would work a number of jobs including housekeeper, house painter, and janitor. Her husband works as a driver for a tile company.


2. In 2009, She Was Arrested for Using Fake Documents

Jeanette Vizguerra church, Jeanette Vizguerra immigrant, Jeanette Vizguerra time magazine

Jeanette Vizguerra outside the First Unitarian Church in Denver, Colorado on February 18, 2017. (Getty)

Jeanette Vizguerra was arrested in 2009, charged with not having a license or insurance and having an expired license plate. These three charges were later dismissed, but she was also charged after making up a Social Security Number to put on a job application. According to CNN, she plead guilty to “attempted possession of a forged instrument.”

After her conviction, Vizguerra was ordered out of the country, but her lawyer asked for five postponements of deportation, the most recent of which was in December 2016, according to The New York Times.

While she was appealing a voluntary departure, Vizguerra returned to Mexico in 2012 when her mother was ill, but her mother died before Vizguerra made it back home, according to CNN. Vizguerra then paid a smuggler to illegally sneak her back into the United States. During this return home, she was arrested by border patrol agents and detained for several weeks.

Vizguerra told Democracy Now that although she was using fake documents, she has still been contributing to American society for 20 years.

“Every year, we have paid taxes,” she said. “And we’ve contributed our labor. And what many people don’t know is that immigrants can’t access the benefits of those taxes, any of the programs. That all stays here with this country. So I would like to ask: If you’re going to deport me, are you going to return 20 years of labor and taxes to me before I go, everything that I’ve contributed here?”


3. In February, She Did Not Show Up to an ICE Check-in & Took Refuge at a Church

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Jeanette Vizguerra addresses supporters and the media while seeking sanctuary at First Unitarian Church on February 15, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. (Getty)

Since her arrest, Jeanette Vizguerra has had to regularly check in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

But in February, she did not go to a check in, worried that she might be deported this time. At the same time, her request for another “stay” was rejected, according to The New York Times.

“[W]hat led me to take the decision this time in my case was the silence from Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Homeland Security about my stay application that I submitted on December 7,” she told Democracy Now. “They kept saying over and over again that they were just reviewing my case, just reviewing my case. They wouldn’t give us any information. And then, last week, with the arrest and deportation of Guadalupe, as well as the detention of a young DREAMer named Daniel, who has DACA, I decided that it was not worth the risk to go and present myself at Immigration and Customs Enforcement.”

Vizguerra subsequently took refuge at the First Unitarian Society in Denver, Colorado, where she has been staying ever since. This church had promised to shield undocumented immigrants.

ICE’s policy states that officers are not to enter “places of worship, such as churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples.”


4. She Has Four Children, One of Whom Is Undocumented

Jeanette Vizguerra family, Jeanette Vizguerra kids, Jeanette Vizguerra husband

Jeanette Vizguerra poses with her husband Salvador Baez and their children. (Getty)

Jeanette Vizguerra has four children in the United States.

Three of them, 6-year-old Zury, 10-year-old Roberto, and 12-year-old Luna, are legal United States citizens, having been born after Vizguerra settled in the United States.

Roberto told Democracy Now that he and his siblings visit their mother sometimes at the church and that he’s afraid that “some ICE person will just pop out and pick her up and take her away.”

Vizguerra’s oldest daughter, though, is undocumented. 26-year-old Tania Baez was brought to the United States with her mother illegally when she was six years old. She is protected under President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Baez is married and has three children, according to The New York Times.

Recently the first DACA recipient was reportedly deported to Mexico, although Department of Homeland Security officials say that Juan Manuel Montes left on his own, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Vizguerra had a plan in place for what her children should do if ICE agents came to the house, as described in the TIME Magazine piece on her.

“Some families have emergency plans for fires, earthquakes or tornadoes,” America Fererra wrote. “Jeanette Vizguerra’s family had an emergency plan for a dreaded knock at the door. If U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials came to her home, her children knew to film the encounter, alert friends and family and hide in the bedroom. The Vizguerra family lived in terror of being ripped apart by deportation.”


5. She Founded the Metro Denver Sanctuary Coalition

Jeanette Vizguerra, Jeanette Vizguerra activist, Jeanette Vizguerra protest

Jeanette Vizguerra leads fellow demonstrators in a protest outside a Wells Fargo bank branch on July 1, 2011 in Aurora, Colorado. (Getty)

In addition to going public with her story, Jeanette Vizguerra also founded the Metro Denver Sanctuary Coalition to help shield other undocumented immigrants in Denver.

Vizguerra told Democracy Now that she thinks President Donald Trump is making a big mistake when it comes to how he is handling immigration.

“What would happen to this country if you lost the labor force of immigrants here in the United States?” she asked. “Who would pick crops, work in your hotels, restaurants and construction? Who would keep the engine of the economy moving forward? If he continues to target the immigrant community, it’s this whole country that will suffer the consequences economically.”

She also told President Trump that she is not more of a criminal that he is.

“[S]upposedly, I am a criminal because I drove without a license, because I had expired stickers on my car, because I had false documents to work and put food on the table for my children,” she told Democracy Now. “But what should we call you, Mr. President Trump, when you have been evading taxes for years, when the way that you’ve been acting is not in keeping with good conscience?”

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15 comments

  1. lol, yet another communist breaking the law, getting into our country then making her demands for free healthcare, free housing, free food, free legal services, free education, etc.

    She’s probably afraid of going back to her home as indians there are treated slightly below that of a street dog and she’ll just get raped by the mexicans anyway.
    So she stays in the US and demands free things. typical socialist parasites.

    • D-I-S-G-U-S-T-I-N-G!!… A-N-D A-P-P-A-L-L-I-N-G!!… A-N-D I-T-‘-S T-I-M-E F-O-R A-C-T-I-O-N!! And in my view, this “family” should be P-U-N-I-S-H-E-D!!… A-N-D P-U-N-I-S-H-E-D S-E-V-E-R-E-L-Y!!… and, in particular, the C-H-I-L-D-R-E-N of Salvador Baez and Jeanette Vizguerra!! And my recommended punishment, is as follows…
      .
      To start, these children… and along with their “parents”!… should be locked away in a PENTHOUSE SUITE at the SHERATON DENVER DOWNTOWN HOTEL! And then!… Zury, Roberto, and Luna should be stripped of their clothing!… given an H-O-U-R L-O-N-G BUBBLE BATH (in separate bathrooms!)!… and forced to put on P-L-U-S-H F-L-A-N-N-E-L P-J-S (with brightly colored Sunflower designs!)!… while their “parents” are ordered to do likewise, within an adjoining Master bedroom! And then, the Hotel Supervisory staff… AND CELEBRITY VOLUNTEERS!… would order the children to situate themselves on a large bed, in a large bedroom, with a massive downy comforter, and six downy pillows! Then!… the celebrity volunteers (under the supervision of the Hotel staff!), would bring into the bedroom… and onto the bed!… 6 puppies, 6 kittens, 3 stuffed teddy bears, and 3 stuffed yellow duckies!
      .
      Next, the three children would be ordered to lay parallel to each other on the bed (equally spaced!)… with Zury in the middle!… and a puppy placed on each earlobe of each child, and a kitten, on each foot of each child! And under the supervision of Hotel staff, the puppies would be encouraged to N-I-B-B-L-E A-W-A-Y at the ears of these children!… W-H-I-L-E T-H-E K-I-T-T-E-N-S D-I-N-E O-N T-H-E-I-R T-O-E-S! And after several minutes of this relentless attack, the children would be ordered to S-N-U-G-G-L-E with all 6 puppies and 6 kittens!… and stuffed critters (I-N T-H-E D-A-R-K-N-E-S-S O-F T-H-E-I-R C-O-M-F-O-R-T-E-R A-N-D P-I-L-L-O-W-S!)!… F-O-R A-N E-N-T-I-R-E H-O-U-R!… while their “parents” are having a bubble bath of their own (WITH WHITE WINE!), in an adjacent Master bedroom!
      .
      Next, after this initial punishment of the children (by animate, and inanimate critters!)!… the parents and the children would be ordered by the celebrities (under the supervision of Hotel staff!) to lay parallel to each other (facing, the end of the bed!), while the Hotel staff and celebrities connect, and position, an ULTRA DEFINITION TV SCREEN (AND SURROUND SOUND SPEAKERS!) at the foot of the bed!
      .
      Next, the celebrity volunteers (dressed as Hotel kitchen waiters!) would bring in platers of chicken, ribs, mixed vegetables (with niblet corn!), chips, angel food cake, chocolate truffles, assorted ALL NATURAL FRUIT DRINKS, and milk shakes!… and, assorted foods, and beverages, for the puppies, kittens, and stuffed critters!
      .
      Next, after watching the first installment of the Harry Potter series together (minus the Hotel staff and celebrities!)!… and after permitted bathroom breakes, and an additional bubble bath for each of these children, and their “parents”!… the celebrity volunteers (dressed as Hotel Masseuses!) would provide this “family” with I-N-D-I-V-I-D-U-A-L-I-Z-E-D, A-N-D S-C-E-N-T-E-D B-O-D-Y R-U-B-S! And then!… and after a S-A-U-N-A for these children!… and a separate one for their “parents”!… this “family” would be ordered to sleep!… with an extensive playlist of instrumental music, playing in the background (and beginning, with Ramsey Lewis’, Mother Nature’s Son!)! And all of this would be repeated… OVER DAYS!… U-N-T-I-L E-V-E-R-Y H-A-R-R-Y P-O-T-T-E-R F-I-L-M I-N T-H-E H-A-R-R-Y P-O-T-T-E-R S-E-R-I-E-S W-A-S V-I-E-W-E-D B-Y T-H-I-S “F-A-M-I-L-Y”! And!… to ensure that these children N-E-V-E-R F-O-R-G-E-T the lessons learned, their “parents” would be ordered to SNIBBLE AND NIBBLE ON THE NECKS, UNDER-ELBS, UNDER-KNEEZIES, AND TOEZIES OF EACH CHILD F-O-R S-E-V-E-R-A-L M-I-N-U-T-E-S, P-E-R C-H-I-L-D!!
      .
      To close!… this B-R-A-Z-E-N A-T-T-E-M-P-T by these “parents” to want, and to demand a “better life” for their children… and themselves… H-A-S G-O-T T-O B-E A-D-D-R-E-S-S-E-D B-Y A-L-L P-E-O-P-L-E O-F C-O-N-S-C-I-E-N-C-E!! We!… A-S C-I-V-I-L-I-Z-E-D M-E-M-B-E-R-S, O-F A C-I-V-I-L-I-Z-E-D S-O-C-I-E-T-Y!… can’t have such parents hiding out in churches, W-H-I-L-E L-U-X-U-R-Y H-O-T-E-L R-O-O-M-S A-R-E G-O-I-N-G E-M-P-T-Y!!… A-N-D C-E-L-E-B-R-I-T-I-E-S A-R-E L-E-F-T W-A-L-K-I-N-G T-H-E S-T-R-E-E-T-S O-F H-O-L-L-Y-W-O-O-D!! Something… A-N-D S-O-M-E-B-O-D-Y!… has got to W-A-K-E U-P!! I say!… we round up all such “parents”!… A-N-D G-I-V-E T-H-E-M T-H-E S-A-M-E T-Y-P-E O-F A-B-O-V-E-N-O-T-E-D P-U-N-I-S-H-M-E-N-T, T-H-E-S-E S-O R-I-C-H-L-Y D-E-S-E-R-V-E!! Oh!… and my suggestions for the volunteer CELEBRITY STAFF who would assist the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel staff in the execution of the abovenoted punishment (a CELEBRITY for each animate and inanimate critter!), would include… Katy Perry, Tom Hanks, Taylor Swift, Richard Schiff, Oprah Winfrey, Chris Tucker, JK Rowling, Stephen Colbert, Anna Faris, Justin Bieber, Jennifer Lawrence, Tony Shaloub, Emma Watson, Edward James Olmos, P!nk, Cee Lo Green, Thandie Newton, and Chris Pratt! That should show em who’s BOSS!
      .
      Please!… no emails!

    • Now you’re talkin!… or should I say, signin! And you might like following scores, as well…
      .

      .

      .

      .
      Please!… no emails!

  2. THIS IS HOW INFLUENTIAL SHE IS, YOU BOZOS!

    Introduced in House (01/07/2014)

    [Congressional Bills 113th Congress]
    [From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
    [H.R. 3817 Introduced in House (IH)]

    113th CONGRESS
    2d Session
    H. R. 3817

    For the relief of Jeanette Vizguerra-Ramirez.

    _______________________________________________________________________

    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

    January 7, 2014

    Mr. Polis introduced the following bill; which was referred to the
    Committee on the Judiciary

    _______________________________________________________________________

    A BILL

    For the relief of Jeanette Vizguerra-Ramirez.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the
    United States of America in Congress assembled,

    SECTION 1. PERMANENT RESIDENT STATUS FOR JEANETTE VIZGUERRA-RAMIREZ.

    (a) In General.–Notwithstanding subsections (a) and (b) of section
    201 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, Jeanette Vizguerra-Ramirez
    shall be eligible for issuance of an immigrant visa or for adjustment
    of status to that of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence
    upon filing an application for issuance of an immigrant visa under
    section 204 of such Act or for adjustment of status to lawful permanent
    resident.
    (b) Adjustment of Status.–If Jeanette Vizguerra-Ramirez enters the
    United States before the filing deadline specified in subsection (c),
    she shall be considered to have entered and remained lawfully and
    shall, if otherwise eligible, be eligible for adjustment of status
    under section 245 of the Immigration and Nationality Act as of the date
    of the enactment of this Act.
    (c) Deadline for Application and Payment of Fees.–Subsections (a)
    and (b) shall apply only if the application for issuance of an
    immigrant visa or the application for adjustment of status is filed
    with appropriate fees within 2 years after the date of the enactment of
    this Act.
    (d) Reduction of Immigrant Visa Number.–Upon the granting of an
    immigrant visa or permanent residence to Jeanette Vizguerra-Ramirez,
    the Secretary of State shall instruct the proper officer to reduce by
    1, during the current or next following fiscal year, the total number
    of immigrant visas that are made available to natives of the country of
    the alien’s birth under section 203(a) of the Immigration and
    Nationality Act or, if applicable, the total number of immigrant visas
    that are made available to natives of the country of the alien’s birth
    under section 202(e) of such Act.
    (e) Denial of Preferential Immigration Treatment for Certain
    Relatives.–The natural parents, brothers, and sisters of Jeanette
    Vizguerra-Ramirez shall not, by virtue of such relationship, be
    accorded any right, privilege, or status under the Immigration and
    Nationality Act.

    • All this shows is that a elected political official, who swore to uphold the laws of the United States Constitution, and while knowing the facts that indicate a law was violated and judgement entered, would rather attempt to find relief for a criminal. Why are we not prosecuting government officials for violating laws of the Constitution?
      If the info in this story is true, then she is in violation of 18USC1325 (crime 1). After conviction for a criminal offense (crime 2), she leaves the country and re-enters via smugglers. Knowing that she cannot simply walk thru a border checkpoint (crime 3). Realizing that her application to stay in the US has been denied, she refuses to check in with her ICE officer or appear for her hearing (crime 4). Go ahead, tell me again that she is a good person and only came here to better her life.
      To the family, if you came here the correct way, got your temporary work permit or visa and continued to pay taxes…the US government would see you as a beneficial immigrant to our country and likely allowed you to stay here as a resident. You may have even tried to get your US citizenship. Nope, 20 years, can speak English, and just wants the government to forget she exists and go about our lives.
      Same on you Jared Polis. Same on your America Ferrera. Read her description on ‘Times: 100 influential’ completely ignoring these facts and depicting her as a hero.

    • ..and it died in Congress pretty much immediately. She is as influential as wartime emergency chiropractors (HR 171 in the same damn congress) and baby elephants (HR 39). Damn, people’s standards for influential seem to get lower and lower every year.

  3. Does it bother anyone that she has lived in the U.S for 20 years and does not speak English ? Every time I see her on TV she has an interpreter . Really? If we lived in any other country we would learn to speak their language out of respect for their people. She is not a top 100 unless we are promoting Spanish speaking individuals who falsify Social Security documents and drive illegally . What ever happened to English being this country’s first language ?

    • Of all the illegal Mexican housekeepers & yardmen hired by my family & by friends & neighbors over the past half century, NOT ONE has ever learned, or ever even made any effort to learn to speak English. This says all one needs to know about their desire to assimilate. After having spent 5 years or 30 here in the USA, they still make no effort to even say “hello”, “please”, or “thank you”…How can One not learn, nu osmosis, BASIC ENGLISH after5-30 years on a country!!! One has to conclude that they are actually making an effort to RESIST.

      • Although I’m Mexican, I have to agree with you, your comment put me back to 1986, I came to this country in that year and those words that you mention were the only words I knew ( yes, not, thank you, hello and please), but I didn’t just came to be just an immigrant I came to grown as a person an assimilate the most and best part of this country, 31 years later I can say that I’m a proud naturalize American citizen and I’m working towards my A.A. in business, in conclusion I do not agree with the people whow support and claim that this lady is a good example and represent what an immigrant is!!!!

    • Or, you know, it could be that the media finds it far easier and quicker to use an interpreter when they’ve only got seconds to tell a story. And as an added bonus, they eliminate all the complaints from ignorant viewers that don’t seem to realize that having a heavy accent isn’t the same as not being able to understand or speak a language.

  4. Sorry. Send her & her family back to Mexica. Immigrants, those who follow the legal process & come here to love and support our country, are always welcome. People who illegally sneak in the back door and think they are above the law are a slap in face to all hard working immigrants who followed the rules. As a U.S. Citizen, try sneaking into Mexico, planting an American flag in your front yard, & expecting everyone to speak English to you,. Just see how far you would get before you ended up in prison.
    Sign the guest book on the way in, it is not too much to ask.

  5. If she has done so much why has she not sought to become documented? Instead, she stole or made up information. We understand why, but we do have laws that allow legal immigration, she perhaps should have used it. Her and her entire family.

  6. As a legal immigrant that waited patiently for my turn to come & have worked and paid my taxes always, beside not breaking any law, I disagree 100% with this illegal woman, Jeanette Vizguerra. Countries have laws and no one is above them. Shame on her to talk about our Pres. Trump disrespectfully. Demanding rights she doesn’t have, using false ID, no insurance and hiding in a church is unacceptable. Maybe we should follow Canadian’s immigration law. No children born from non-citizens are Canadians nor would they get a check, nor free education or healthcare.
    Shame on TIME MAGAZINE for naming her among the 100 influential people. I guess that breaking laws is so common now that it has to be elevated in importance. Why didn’t Time choose a political prisoner from Venezuela or Cuba instead?