DENVER, CO (KMGH) — 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.
“This recognition is a result of my eight years of struggle against my own deportation, and an acknowledgement of my twenty years of contributing to the economy of this country as an immigrant,” said Vizguerra in a statement.
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.
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.
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.