AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – An undocumented immigrant taking sanctuary in a Denver church has been named to Time Magazine’s annual list of the world’s most influential people.
Time’s description of Jeanette Vizguerra is written by actress and activist America Ferrera, who nominated her. Ferrera praises Vizguerra, who recently started taking sanctuary in the basement of First Unitarian Church (where federal agents won’t go), as an “outspoken union organizer and building her own company before becoming an advocate for immigration reform.”
Vizguerra entered the country illegally 20 years ago, has three American born children and was awaiting a visa that would give her a path to legal status. She is now defying her deportation order that stems from an arrest for a fake ID in 2009, and Rep. Diana DeGette and Rep. Jared Polis are among the Colorado leaders who have come to her defense.
On Thursday morning Vizguerra spoke to reporters at the church about her immigration situation and the honor from the magazine.
“This is what people who are in my situation — so many people in my situation and their families — have to go through,” Vizguerra said through a translator. “We have to work hard. We have to struggle hard for our rights. And in that process we feel fear, we feel anger and uncertainty in the face of so many governments around the world that are trying to separate us from our families.
Ferrera wrote that Vizguerra “came to this country not to rape, murder or sell drugs, but to create a better life for her family.”
Vizguerra’s attorneys said she is hoping ICE can grant her a stay of removal so she can attend Time’s gala for its honorees next Tuesday.