Jeanette Vizguerra, a Colorado leader and mother of four, faces what may be her final court date on July 13. She faces deportation as an undocumented alien. Jeanette has lived in Colorado for over 14 years. She has 3 small children who are all US citizens
During her time in Colorado, she started a small business with her husband and has given selflessly as a community activist. She worked for SEIU as a labor organizer and currently volunteers at her children’s schools. She is part of the the Aurora Neighborhood Watch Program, and Rights for All People. During the time she was doing all of this, her husband was diagnosed with cancer and the family incurred over twenty eight thousand dollars in medical bills. By working sometimes as many as three jobs at one time, this debt was retired. Not one dime of tax payer money went toward helping the family because, in Jeanette’s words, “It wouldn’t have been right.” In any other situation, and most any other country, all of this would have qualified Jeanette for a Citizen of the Year award. But not in our community and not in this country at this time in our nation’ history.
Jeanette’s story exemplifies our broken immigration system in which mothers, fathers, students, and workers are criminalized for minor violations. In her case, it was a matter of an expired emissions sticker. When she was pulled over, the first question asked was “Are you in this country illegally?” With that traffic stop, she entered the criminal justice system and became a statistic.
In testifying before the US Senate Committee on the Judiciary on March 9 of this year, Secretary of Interior Janet Napolitano said the following: “Likeour actions at the border, our interior enforcement efforts are achieving major results. In Fiscal Years 2009 and 2010, ICE removed more illegal immigrants from our country than ever before, with more than 779,000 removals nationwide in the last two years. Most importantly, more than half of those aliens removed last year – upwards of 195,000 – were convicted criminals, the most ever removed from our country in a single year.”There is a good chance that Jeanette Vizguerra will join that number.
Mark Twain once wrote that “there are three kinds of lies: plain lies, damned lies and statistics.” Our immigration policy is based upon the third kind of lie. It is time we change that. There will be a demonstration prior to Jeanette’s court appearance. It will be at 7:30Am in front of the federal court building at 17th and Welton in downtown Denver. It is your chance to help in this change.
Br. David received his doctorate in religious studies from Emerson Theological Institute. Dr. Garner also holds an MBA from Fairleigh Dickinson University and a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Denver. Br. David is a member of the Interfaith Worker Justice Council of Colorado and serves on the Steering Committee of the Abrahamic Initiative here in Denver. He was recently recognized by the Denver Area Chapter of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement for his commitment to the community and to the Latino Movement. Author, teacher and social activist , he is currently Abbot of St. Dunstan's Benedictine Abbey in Denver, Colorado.