Undocumented mother of 3 takes refuge in Denver church
Feb 17 2017 by Larry Hoffman
She was concerned that if she met with immigration officials, she would be deported.
Meyer did not specify what type of crime Vizguerra had been a victim of, but asserted that she intends to stay at the First Unitarian Church in Centennial until her U-visa application goes through. Just one of millions of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S., Vizguerra first came to Colorado from Mexico City with her husband and first child 14 years before.
The church's pastor, Mike Morran, said it was "immoral" and "unconscionable that she still has to live in fear of being ripped from her children and deported to a country she hasn't been in for nearly two decades".
Trump, who has pushed for tougher enforcement on immigration laws, may want to stop the practice; however, doing so would put him at odds with his stance on religious freedom.
The previous administration primarily targeted undocumented immigrants for deportation if they had committed a violent crime.
The mother of three has now taken refuge inside a church in Denver. According to NPR, after a 2011 memo issued by ICE under President Barack Obama, it has been federal policy to not enforce immigration arrests in churches and other "sensitive locations", like schools, unless absolutely necessary. Under President Trump, immigration agents have begun rounding up undocumented residents with criminal convictions.
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With three of her four children joining her on the altar, the former union organizer and house cleaner said her only crimes were related to working in the country illegally to support her family.
Meanwhile, roughly 100 protesters rallied outside the ICE office in Centennial, picketing signs emblazoned with handwritten slogans such as, "Don't Deport This Mom".
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. She says she has been fighting to stay in this country for the last eight years. She was arrested once for not having a driver's license, and another time for having a forged Social Security number, according to ICE officials.
Vizguerra is an illegal immigrant, who came to the US 20 years ago.
"My fight is going to continue", Vizguerra said, wiping away tears.