Jeanette Vizguerra is a fixture in the Denver justice community. Along with her three young children, we often see her at rallies, hear her speak at monthly vigils at our local detention center, and witness her tell her story at the state capitol to influence policy change. For the last 15 years, Jeanette has worked hard to bring more justice to Colorado- for workers, for immigrants, for families.
Many Unitarian Universalists in the Denver area have had the pleasure of spending time with Jeanette, inviting her to speak in our congregations or share her story with our social justice ministries. Over the years, she has helped us to better understand the ins and outs of the immigration system, what it’s like to live with the constant threat of separation from one’s family, and the impossible choices often faced by immigrants in this country. She has inspired us with her courage and her passion. And she has become a friend and mentor to many of us, when some of our own families were experiencing the threat of deportation, detention, or separation.
But now Jeannette has only 3 months left before she is deported. As we approach Mother’s Day we are asking you to please sign this petition to keep Jeannette with her children and family.
Jeanette is an amazing person who has worked tirelessly for the rights of others, even before Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) began trying to deport her in 2008. Like many immigrants in our community, her deportation proceedings began with something trivial- a traffic stop for an expired license plate. In the years since, she has been detained, disrespected, and threatened with deportation countless times. And yet she continues to work hard- to fight her own case but also to change our broken immigration system.
Jeanette with her family
Unitarian Universalists in our area have been intentionally walking with Jeanette, companioning her as she has been fighting hard to stay with her family. Those of us who are citizens can never fully understand what it’s like to go through an ordeal like Jeanette is experiencing. But we can be witnesses, listeners, and friends. We can be steady companions, walking with her and following her lead. And we can fight like hell alongside her, taking action, raising money, using our privilege to access decision-makers and media, and amplifying her voice and story to help expose the injustice of our immigration system.
For Jeanette’s story exemplifies the brutality of an immigration system that unjustly separates families and denies millions the ability to live with dignity. Although this immigration system has tried to destroy Jeanette’s dignity, she is still fighting to be with her children and she needs us to be with her- all of us.
In February of this year, with the support of the community she has worked so hard to build, Jeanette won a third Stay of Deportation for 6 months. Her lawyer is hopeful that with enough community and political support, she might be able to win a two year stay in July. And Jeanette Vizguerra is exactly the type of person we should be inviting to stay in our country.
Signing an online petition can sometimes feel like it doesn’t have a real impact. But including a petition in an immigration file, with thousands of signatures from all across the country, can demonstrate to decision makers that there is a wider community standing behind that immigrant, invested in the outcome of a decision on a stay. Will you become a member Jeanette's community?
This Mother’s Day, join the fight to keep families together. Please join us and other Colorado Unitarian Universalists in walking with Jeanette.
Learn more about Jeanette’s story and sign and share her petition via social media and email.
Sign and share this petition from our partners at We Belong Together, calling on ICE Director Sarah Saldaña to end the practice of family detention.
Listen to the stories of other immigrant mothers like Jeanette. Read five stories that provide a window into the state of women and immigration.
In the spirit of justice and community,
Chair, Immigrant Justice Task Force
First Universalist Church of Denver
Rev. Kierstin Homblette
Beloved Community Ministries of Colorado