A Mexican woman trying to avoid deportation took refuge in a Colorado church Wednesday as the White House continues to take a hard line on undocumented immigrants across America.
Jeanette Vizguerra, who has worked in the U.S. for 20 years, was accompanied by her three American-born children this week when she entered the First Unitarian Church in Denver for what could potentially be a very prolonged stay.
Despite the risk that she’ll languish in the safe-haven, which federal officials are unlikely to enter, Vizguerra said it was a choice she had to make after realizing a meeting she had scheduled with immigration officials Wednesday could lead to her immediate deportation due to misdemeanors on her record.
“The only thing that I’ve done is use false documents to put food on the table of my family,” Vizguerra said through a translator at the church.
About 100 demonstrators stood outside the building in a show of support to Vizguerra, who has a radio show and is active in immigrant affairs.
Vizguerra said that President Trump is “not thinking right now about how my children feel, wondering how long I’ll have to live in this church.”
Vizguerra has been granted several stays under Obama-era policies that concentrated deportation efforts on only the worst of criminals. However, as fear grips immigrant communities coast-to-coast in the wake of a White House-led crackdown on immigrants with records of any kind, the mother-of-four feared the worst.
“This is not just an attack on me, it’s an attack on the entire immigrant community,” Vizguerra said.
Vizguerra is among the most high profile of the undocumented immigrants targeted in a wave of immigration raids that have seen hundreds rounded up by ICE officials in recent days.
ICE spokesman Shawn Neudauer said Vizguerra was an “enforcement priority” because of the two misdemeanor convictions and because a judge originally issued final deportation orders for her in 2011
Should Vizguerra become separated from her American-born children Zury, 6, Roberto, 10, and Luna, 12, their care would fall to her husband and 26-year-old daughter.