Undocumented Colorado mother of 3 named to the Time 100

Posted at 6:47 AM, Apr 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-20 21:32:38-04

DENVER -- An undocumented mother of three who fled to a Denver church seeking sanctuary was named one of Time magazine’s most influential people.

Jeannette Vizguerra came to the U.S. from Mexico 20 years ago. Fearing deportation, she has been living inside First Unitarian Church in Denver since February. . 

Time magazine highlights her story, sharing how her family had an emergency plan in place if ICE officials came to her home.

According to her lawyer, Vizguerra is a survivor of violence who escaped from Mexico City to the U.S. in 1997 with her husband and eldest daughter, who was then 6 years old.

Her lawyer said Vizguerra's young family is rooted in Colorado and has legally lived here while paying taxes and abiding by U.S. restrictions. 

"I want to share this recognition with the 11 million other undocumented people in this country who are struggling every single day, but are in the shadows and not visible to you," she said.

Vizguerra stood on the steps of the Denver church where she's been living for the past 65 days, scared of being deported by ICE agents.  Denver7 reporter Marc Stewart asked her if she feels isolated.

"I don't feel isolated, I feel like I'm protected, like I'm a crystal vase, and that I'm surrounded by community and my family who love me so much," she said.

U.S. Congresswoman Diana DeGette said she wants the nation and its administration to take note of the honor bestowed upon Vizguerra.

“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 said. 

Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., praised Vizguerra's recognition in a statement:

“Time Magazine is acknowledging what we all know to be true – Jeanette Vizguerra represents thousands of immigrants who, like her, have built a life here and who have given back to their communities over the years.  Sadly, Jeanette is also an example of how our immigration policies have utterly failed, forcing a mother of three American children to hideout in the basement of a church, instead of working to support her family.  I think we could all agree, Jeanette and others like her are not the people ICE should be targeting.  They are the exceptional immigrants who motivate me in the fight for immigration reform.”

The magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world also included President Donald Trump, actress Viola Davis and Olympic gymnast Simone Biles.

In one of her first appearances outside of the church, Vizguerra appeared to speak with her family by her side. She retreated to the church soon after. Watch below:

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