By Tom Mustin

DENVER (CBS4) – An emotional Jeanette Vizguerra addressed the media from inside her sanctuary at Denver’s First Unitarian Church.

“This is not just an attack on me, it’s an attack on the entire immigrant community,” Vizguerra said.

Jeanette Vizguerra talks to the media (credit: CBS)

Jeanette Vizguerra talks to the media (credit: CBS)

Vizguerra is an undocumented immigrant. She came to the U.S. 20 years ago. She has a radio show and is active in immigrant affairs. In 2009, Vizguerra was convicted of using a fake Social Security number that she says she needed to continue working.

“The only thing that I’ve done is use false documents to put food on the table of my family,” she said through a translator.

On Wednesday, surrounded by three of her children, Vizguerra explained why she’s hiding in the church to avoid being deported. She also sent a message to President Donald Trump.

Jeanette Vizguerra with her children (credit: CBS)

Jeanette Vizguerra with her children (credit: CBS)

“He’s not thinking right now about how my children feel, wondering how long I’ll have to live in this church.

On Wednesday her attorney, Hans Meyer, held a rally in front of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) headquarters in Centennial. Vizguerra failed to show up for a scheduled meeting there after ICE turned down her request for a Stay of Deportation.

Jeanette Vizguerra get a hug (credit: CBS)

Jeanette Vizguerra get a hug (credit: CBS)

“They would have arrested her and she would have been torn away from her three small children this morning without any notice,” Meyer told CBS4’s Tom Mustin.

Rev. Mike Morran says the woman is welcome to stay at his church as long as necessary.

CBS4's Tom Mustin interviews Rev. Mike Morran (credit: CBS)

CBS4’s Tom Mustin interviews Rev. Mike Morran (credit: CBS)

“Away from her three children that need her, deporting her to a country she hasn’t been in in 20 years. That punishment is obscene for the crime that was committed,” Morran said.

It’s a crime Vizguerra says will not define her.

“If the system thinks it can break me, that it can make me kneel, the system is wrong,’ she said.

immigrant-mom-rally-Jeanette Vizguerra

ICE spokesman Shawn Neudauer released a statement to CBS4 saying, “Jeanette Vizguerra-Ramirez, from Mexico, has two misdemeanor convictions. On Nov. 18, 2011, a federal immigration judge originally issued her final orders of deportation to Mexico. Based on these factors, Vizguerra-Ramirez is an ICE enforcement priority. Ms. Vizguerra-Ramirez’s request for another Stay of Removal was denied Feb. 15, 2017 by the ICE Denver Field Office.”

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock went into great detail in an interview with CBS4’s Stan Bush. He says the city has almost no power to protect undocumented residents immigration agents have targeted for deportation.

“We recognize that is the unfortunate result of a chaotic, lacking-a-focused policy out of Washington,” Hancock said.

Hancock echoed concerns that deporting an undocumented resident who committed small crimes will have a chilling effect. City leaders worry the undocumented will retreat to the shadows and not report crimes in their neighborhoods out of fear of deportation.

“This will lead to greater chaos in our communities,” Hancock said. “We want residents to go through their lives and not feel that they’ll be separated from their families.”

On Wednesday, the mayor called Colorado’s congressional delegation over concerns over the Vizguerra case and the president’s immigration stance. He says Vizguerra would not have to worry about deportation if Immigration could process her U visa application faster.

“This can be handled very quickly and swiftly and amenably so that this woman is not torn away from her four children who expect and depend on her by getting her that U visa,” Hancock said.

Arturo Hernandez walked out of a Denver church in July 2015 after 9 months of seeking sanctuary (credit: CBS)

Arturo Hernandez walked out of a Denver church in July 2015 after 9 months of seeking sanctuary (credit: CBS)

A previous undocumented immigrant, Arturo Hernandez Garcia, lived at the First Unitarian Church for four months in 2014. He left after ICE sent the church a message that he was no longer a priority.

Tom Mustin is CBS4’s Weekend Anchor. He has been with CBS4 since 2002, and is always looking for great story ideas. Connect with Tom on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @TomCBS4.

Comments (28)
  1. Keith Bunn says:

    Been here 20 years and still can’t speak English

  2. She committed a crime coming here to begin with. She should have thought about children before she broke our laws. She needs to take responsibility for her actions and blame herself for the position she has placed her family in.

  3. Jeff Price says:

    To be fair this isnt an assault on the entire immigrant community as she says. It is enforcement of law on those who have broken the law. Did she accidentally trip and fall across the border and then not wake up for twenty years? No. She knew she violated the law. She stayed for two decades. Has a radio show. Is active in immigration . whatever that means. Maybe she should have been active in taking care of her paperwork instead???

  4. I was sitting on the patio at a Chipotle in Denver a couple of summers ago. At a table next to me were two men in suits sitting with 4 Hispanic women. They spoke english, the women did not. One of the men was translating what the other man was saying to Spanish. He was telling the women that they needed to find an American man and “have babies”, so that they would not be deported and so that they could get public assistance. Suffice it to say, it was difficult for me to sit there and listen to that conversation without saying something, but I opted not to. It makes my blood boil not only that these people come into our country illegally and take advantage of legal citizens, but also that there are people who are complicit in helping them do it. These churches are doing the same thing. They are aiding and abetting criminal behavior, in the name of “Christianity”.

  5. I totally agree with EVERYTHING you said Lu!!! She is here for 20 years mind you (illegally, using someone else ss# illegally) and still doesn’t bother to learn English has numerous kids that we’re now suppose to feel sorry for, which I don’t, her problem, and CBS spins it as a sad sob story backing her up! REALLY!!!!
    I’m sick and tired of these illegals coming into our country meeting up with El’Committee groups at schools, and learning how to beat the system.
    Then the kids show up with name brand clothes, diamond earrings in their ears at elementary grades,
    they apply and know how to lie to get free lunches in the schools and go on trips yearly all over the place and carry i phones at 3rd and 4th grades.
    These people are definitely playing the system and when they are confronted about driving without insurance, voting numerous times etc… they totally they play the stupid card, and pretend they don’t speak or understand English.
    “Get Clue” is absolutely right! She is showing her defiance of our
    laws of America! Who the hell does she think she is??? I saw pictures of her loading
    her numerous kids in the van and I can almost bet you that she doesn’t have
    car insurance on it! She’s a thief and a criminal and people are
    protecting her???? What the heck is wrong with all of you???? She needs
    to get out of our country ASAP!!!! and be used as an example for any other idiot out there
    that thinks they can come in and do what they want to do here!

  6. Get Clue says:

    This person has committed numerous crimes against the State of Colorado and the United States of America. For her to state that law enforcement “can’t break her” shows her absolute defiance of the laws of the country. Her attorney is trying to distract citizens from the real issues by jumping on the Trump bashing party and saying it’s entirely his fault that this mother of 4 is being picked on.

    But the fact that Jeanette Vizguerra-Ramirez openly admits to identity thief, being here illegally, not having a driver’s license or vehicle insurance, not reporting to the proper authorities per her U visa requirements. Not even the ACLU would try to defend her!

    This demands a full story to be aired on Channel 4 news, not just a “oh, you poor thing” story. Turn this story over to the stations investigative reporters. Jeanette Vizguerra-Ramirez has such a total disregard of our laws, what other crimes has this person committed against the citizens of Colorado?

  7. Can O'Korn says:

    a U visa?
    There’s nothing unusual about this case. It is SOP for Mexican reconquista and supported by the Mexican government trying to create their 6th congressional district in the US from east of the Mississippi to California and north to Canada. Only Mexican would be allowed to vote and it would become a defacto portion of Mexico.

  8. Support LEGAL IMMIGRATION! Keep the criminal illegals out of the U.S.

  9. 20 years and she still can’t speak English – an illegal criminal alien – kick her out. It;s her own fault if the kids suffer

  10. Here’s the thing, they weren’t ever MEANT to be in the U.S and came here *Illegally*.

  11. Hey Tom Mustin, why not try reporting the story for a natural perspective instead of the beading heart, feel sorry for this poor lady with kids stand point. How about from the perspective of supporting the President who’s trying to clean up the mess!

    Spend some time interviewing the people who were effected by her and others stealing their SS# – there’s a story – but that won’t happen as it would require actual journalism and you have a deadline so lets put the powder puff beading heart story on instead and passively bash our president in the process.

    1. You mean, selfish sewer rats! You make me sick.There are going to be more in her situation, and in some cases like this, it is inhuman to do this to a family, and if you are as SMALL as you sound I pity you.Yeah I do. A real American has a heart. Flea-bitten Trump shot from the shoulder yet again, and didn’t even think about special situations like anyone with 1 brain cell would have. You ugly morons.I think I’m gonna puke!

  12. Karl Ruane says:

    Trump should burn the church to the ground with this leaching, sub human slug inside.

    It is, after all….a heathen Methodist church.

  13. Lu Johnson says:

    MILLIONS of illegals, JUST LIKE HER ‘need to work’.. and so they make up, or steal CHILDREN’S social security numbers (because they most likely won’t have credit bureau activity for several years and thereby won’t get caught right away.)

    HOW IS THIS ACCEPTABLE to ANY REASONABLE AMERICAN? Answer: It’s not. And if you say it is, you’re probably a loser left wing nutter.

    Wake up, leftists idiots. Your drive to hug a criminal is HURTING many, many citizens.. many are just children who have big surprises waiting for them at 16 when they go to open a bank account or get a credit card.

    EFF you liberals.


  14. Gosh, all she did was enter the country in violation of the law and use a false Social Security number. You try that and see what happens.

  15. Joan Sweeney says:

    Did she make up a Social Security number,or use one that was stolen? Using a stolen Social Security number is not a victimless crime. She began by breaking the law by crossing the border when other immigrants enter this country legally, then she went on to break other laws. She “has a radio show? Really?

  16. Marc Barrett says:

    If this church does not do all they can to help her then the members of that church have no right whatsoever to call themselves Christians. After all, who would Jesus support: a person in need, or a government? Keep in mind that Jesus was a victim of government capital punishment.

  17. It is amazing that she thinks she is entitled to be and stay here.

    1. I agree. The arrogance she displays by claiming, “The system will not break her.” Amazing. She chose to come here illegally and get a FAKE Social Security number. What other country would ever tolerate this? No respect for our laws or system. Deport her tomorrow. She is not a victim.

  18. teachermarkthailand says:

    There is a decent and legal way to come to America? Why should this criminal be given special treatment? Put her on a bus TODAY!

  19. Pete Simpson says:

    Been here 20 years and broken the law, should have at least attempted to become a citizen, leave and go through proper channels if you want to live here.

  20. Finally, churches doing their job!

    1. Can O'Korn says:

      You cannot take sanctuary in a church. This isn’t the 1500’s.

  21. She admits to committing a crime and being here illegally. Goodbye.

    1. I agree and why is channel 4 not digging in and reporting that she broke the law or even to try to find out who’s Social Security number she got. They need to be pointing out that they are breaking the law. No wonder there is so much crime here. The news is slanting it so breaking the law is ok. Come on Channel 4. Please try to stop all the crime going on in my country. Finally we got a president that is trying to straighten up this country and he gets it from everybody that is cheating us.

      1. There are many Americans who completely agree with you yet the press will not cover that side of the story. Trump didn’t elect himself neither did the Russians.

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