Immigration|August 30, 2011 6:11 PM

Mother of four facing deportation after traffic stop in Arapahoe County


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Jeanette Vizguerra, 39, is a mother of four, a taxpayer and a businesswoman. She is also one of millions who live in the U.S. without documents. After living in Colorado for 14 years, she’s facing the possibility of deportation.

“No one can understand what it possibly feels like to be in this situation,” Vizguerra said. “I’d like to go on contributing to this country and community.”

Pastor Anne Dunlap comforts Jeanette Vizguerra after a hearing in Vizguerra's deportation case.

Vizguerra is one of tens of thousands of immigrants facing deportation after traffic stops and other minor encounters with law enforcement.

After hearing protests over the fact that half the 400,000 people deported each year have no criminal record, the Obama Administration recently announced pending deportations would be reviewed to concentrate the federal government’s resources on the most dangerous criminals. The administration said it would allow other immigrants, including with family and community ties, to remain in the U.S. and work legally.

It’s too soon to tell if the new policy will help Vizguerra, according to her lawyer, Bryony Heise. Since the announcement, prosecutors in Denver have closed a handful of deportation cases – but it’s not clear if they are setting a new pattern, Heise said.

Vizguerra’s tale begins in Mexico, where she faced a kidnapping attempt. Her husband Salvador worked as a Mexico City bus driver and was held up at gunpoint three times on the job. The couple determined it was too dangerous to continue living there, and decided to make their way to the U.S. to work and raise a family.

Too desperate to wait years in the hope of getting permission to immigrate legally, the journey to Colorado began on Christmas Day in 1997.

Vizguerra has since has built a new life in Colorado. Her oldest child, born in Mexico, is now 21, lives in Aurora and has obtained legal status. Her three other young children – 7, 5 and a baby 8 months old – are natural-born American citizens.

She owns a moving and cleaning company in the Denver Metro Area, and pays employees and taxes. Her husband makes wholesale deliveries.

Now they are worrying whether Vizguerra will be forced to leave and return to the world she escaped nearly 15 years ago. That would leave her three small children with their father, who has been treated for cancer and works long hours to feed the family. She won’t take the children back to the dangers of living in Mexico.

Last year, 71 percent of the 390,000 deportees were from Mexico, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson Carl Rusnock. Although ICE says it concentrates on deporting the most dangerous criminals, 197,000 had had no criminal record. (Being in the U.S. without permission is a civil offense, not a crime.)

From the Colorado-Wyoming region, ICE deported 6,617 people last year. Of those, 2,170 did not have criminal records.

Vizguerra’s court journey began in February 2009. At about 10 p.m., she was driving home from work when she was pulled over by an Arapahoe County sheriff’s deputy for driving with expired plates on Parker Road in Aurora.

According to the police report detailing the incident, Vizguerra provided the arresting deputy with her Mexican Consular ID. The deputy, she says, asked her if she was in the country legally or illegally. The report indicates she told the officer she was “illegal.” In addition to her expired registration, she had no driver’s license or proof of insurance.

The deputy arrested Vizguerra, under what Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson says his department’s policy of detaining any driver without registration, insurance and a license.

Jeanette Vizguerra is facing deportation and will leave her family behind in the U.S. because it is safer. From left are Luna, 7; father Salvador; Roberto, 5; mother Jeanette Vizguerra; and daughter Zury, now 8 months. Photo courtesy Rights for All People

Arresting her — rather than ticketing her for driving without a license as the State Patrol had done just a week earlier — brought her into the jail and to the attention of immigration authorities.

A Colorado law known as Senate Bill 90 (PDF) passed in 2006 and requires law enforcement to report to ICE any suspected illegal who is arrested for a crime.

Robinson says his principle is that “local law enforcement should never enforce immigration law. That’s the responsibility of the federal government that’s not being met.”

“With that said,” the sheriff continued, “once someone presents at our detentions facility, we have a responsibility to the community, and under state statute, to properly identify an individual’s immigration status, and then notify ICE if that individual is suspected to be without documentation.”

Critics contend the law forces people to live in the shadows.

“We feel like it blurs the boundary between who’s enforcing law, and who’s securing communities,” said Liz Hamel, an organizer for the Colorado immigrant rights group Rights for All People, which has organized several rallies in support of Vizguerra. “Local law enforcement are supposed to keep us safe,” Hamel said.

After Vizguerra was taken into custody, the police report says deputies found she had several forged documents, including social security cards, a Mexican Consular ID, a Permanent Resident Card, and a Colorado identification card. She was charged with felony identity theft because one of the social security numbers belonged to someone else. She pled guilty to a lesser charge — misdemeanor possession of a forged instrument. She spent 23 days in jail.

But then she had to deal with immigration.

Vizguerra maintains that, “I never thought I would be caught in a system like this … I’ve paid my taxes and I am not a criminal.”

That is the crux of a key dispute in America’s immigration debate. ICE and the sheriff see Vizguerra’s misdemeanor conviction and call her and others like her a criminal. Pro-immigration activists say she is not a criminal, because she was not convicted of a felony. Using fake ID is necessary for an illegal immigrant to live, they say.

Vizguerra said that in addition to fighting for her own future, she wants to bring attention to the types of deportations that are happening every day. And, she’s had others fighting alongside her. At a July 13 deportation court hearing, 50 activists gathered outside the Denver Federal Immigration Courthouse in support.

“This isn’t a matter of justice in terms of federal law,” said Rabbi Joel Schwartzman. “Jeanette [Vizguerra] is no criminal.”

Hans Meyer, another immigration lawyer who is not representing Vizguerra, also said that it is too soon to know the effect of the Administration announcement on who is allowed to remain. But he said the new policy might not help Vizguerra because “for ICE, a crime is a crime. Anything more than driving without a license is a problem.”

Vizguerra’s next court hearing is Oct. 1.

Cara DeGette and Robert D. Tonsing contributed to this report.

Let’s start a serious discussion about immigration reform – and recent changes that may emphasize the deportation of violent criminals and give work permits to undocumented people with family and community ties. Here are a few questions to start the discussion.

If you were Jeanette Vizguerra, would you have immigrated to the U.S. illegally?
Vizguerra pled guilty to a misdemeanor after a traffic stop for expired tags. She does not have a felony conviction. Should she be allowed to stay? Or is she a criminal who must go back to Mexico?

What goal would you like to see when immigration law is changed?

What law could realistically do that?

53 Comments

  • If you’ve ever been or know of someone who has or is the victim of identity theft, you know the hardship endured to clear that undeserved event.

    Ms. Vizguerra, according to this story, “had several forged documents, including social security cards, a Mexican Consular ID, a Permanent Resident Card, and a Colorado identification card”. Sounds like criminal offenses to me. Pleading down does not absolve wrongdoing for the victims. Ms. Vizguerra had ample time to apply for citizenship, being in this country since 1997. Legal citizens are required to have car tags, insurance, etc., why does this woman feel, due to her circumstance, to be above the law that every American abides by?

    Without laws, we chance anarchy. Laws can be changed, not by picking for ourselves which laws are applicable, but by the rule of the land: i.e, the courts, legislation and so on. When Ms. Vizguerra emphasizes paying taxes for employees, how could she have paid personal taxes without a SS number? I personally don’t doubt she ‘could have’ paid cash to some employees, also here illegal to ‘help’ them circumvent their personal dilemma, as she herself has skirted around laws due to her circumstance.

    Bottom line, yes, anyone here ILLEGAL, needs to be deported.

  • WOW!!! What a sad story, I mean all she did was drive without a valid drivers license, failed to register the car, and did not have insurance. Oh and Criminal Impersonation (the fake identification). So it makes me wonder who is going to get screwed by the IRS because she is using their social security number. I mean really after fourteen years she shouldn’t have to get any legal documents or anything, kind of just grandfather her in. FOURTEEN YEARS!!!!! She still does not speak English, has not applied for any legal status, drives without insurance, does not register her car, and illegally uses a victims social security number. I really have no sympathy. Also when they say “it was just a traffic infraction” NO, Criminal Impersonation is a FELONY. Also she had been previously pulled over and given a citation and continued to drive, that shows me that she will continue to violate our laws, traffic or otherwise. This may have been okay, say, a few years ago, but we as citizens are getting fed up with how we have to “obey” the laws of this country and immigrants are exempt.

  • This sad tale of a mother, who may be deported and ripped from the arms of her children and family, demonstrates the need for comprehensive immigration reform. It also highlights the moral underpinnings of our nation and society. Are we so blinded by discrimination to the point we would support force a woman to leave her children and return to a country in which she hasn’t lived for 14 years? Are we the type of nation that uses poor immigrants for their labor and then kick them out when we have no more use for them? I would like think the United States is an empathic nation- one that opens her arms to the hungry masses. America should open its borders. Those already here illegally should be given a pathway to be legalization. Critics balk that lawbreaking undocumented immigrants should not be rewarded; yet, for the most part, immigrants like Vizgurrea’s only crime is wanting to work hard to make a better life for herself and her children. It has been argued that immigration reform benefits the United States in numerous ways. According to U.S. Census, the current U.S. population is rapidly aging and won’t be able to fill all of the nation’s employment needs. Migrants tend to be young, hardworking and enterprising. Like Vizgurrea, immigrants are 30 percent more likely than native-born Americans to start their own businesses. According to Forbes Magazine, nearly half of Silicon Valley’s venture capital-funded start-ups are co-founded by immigrants. Take Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google. He came to the U.S. at the age of 6 as a refugee from the Soviet Union. Yet he went on to found a multinational firm that employees thousands in the U.S. and around the world. How many potential Sergey Brins does America turn away each year or deport — and at what costs?

  • This excellent documentary points out the human tale of what those who are not white, wealthy and well-connected must endure to try to live in this country. The story of Jeanette, I think, shows the persevering and heroic nature of those who come to America seeking a better way of life. Jeanette’s story is classic of how even those who try to do everything possible to support themselves by bootstrapping their way up, working long hours, starting their own businesses, raising their children, can lose it all in a heartbeat with a simple mistake.

    It ‘s true that after 14 years she did not have legal immigration status and was using fake id, and still did not speak English. It’s easy to criticize those things if you are not walking in her shoes. But it all costs money and takes precious time. For someone who is spending most of her waking hours trying to eke out a living to feed her children, taking English classes, citizenship classes, and filling out the paperwork to become a citizen may be overwhelming.

    I would hope that as Americans we can embrace the notion that this country was founded on welcoming those who come to us. The path to legal citizenship need to be expedited and simplified. The fact is, we need these

    immigrants if we are to maintain our economic power. Immigrants like Jeannette are having four or five children who will be replacing the generation before them and supporting their elder’s. White American couple’s birth rates are declining, statically we’re having far fewer children than our immigrant counterparts.

    Aside from that, the energy, drive, determination, and influence of other cultures is and always has been, what makes us the great melting pot. I think the government has much more important things to be focusing on than deporting people like Jeanette. I hope that for her and her family’s sake that doesn’t happen.

  • Thanks for putting together such an important story to inject nuance and discourse into the debate around immigration. Vilification of immigrants is easy. But to bring reason and humanity to bear in crafting sensible public policy takes far more effort. This piece goes a long way towards promoting that discussion.

  • This is a technically excellent and sociologically riveting story! It should be aired not only immediately but repeatedly as an educational resource for the vast segment of our population who have no idea of the trials, tribulations and trivializations of innocent hard-working tax-paying well-established non-criminals from ANY country who work hard to have what most of us are born in to!

  • Not every American abides by the laws you’re citing here. Are you really saying every American has appropriate auto insurance, licensing, etc.? Americans get popped for failing to obey those laws all the time. This documentary does an excellent job of showing how by creating a tangled web of dysfunctional immigration laws it heightens the bar for hardworking people who want to make something of themselves and their families and it increases the chances of failure. This woman probably paid more income tax last year than GE; that helps YOU and everyone else. These people are our friends and neighbors and we need to figure out a better way of dealing with this than currently exists.

    Excellent work, CPT.

  • “Criminals” come in all different flavors, from jaywalker to speeder to ditcher to murderer. “Skateboarding is not a crime,” except where it is. Perhaps it is poor use of our tax dollars to not have the discernment to distinguish real criminals from social, or policy criminals. Poor use because it is a Sysiphan task to clear a tide caused by economic and socio-economic factors. Poor example because we fail, at the same time, to prosecute major white-collar crime. Justice is not binary. That’s why experienced, creative judges are so valued. Thanks for picturing Jeanette’s dilemma for us.

  • When I began reporting this story, I had some beliefs about illegal immigration. Every story starts somewhere. Well, my research showed that I was wrong on a few points. For instance, I thought if a woman, here illegally, has a child, then she will be allowed to stay. Not so. There is no such thing as an anchor baby.

    I thought illegals probably didn’t pay taxes. Well, just like the rest of the population, some do and some don’t. Illegals are not allowed to get Social Security Numbers, so they do something else. In Jeanette’s case, she files tax returns using a Federal Tax Identification Number (TIN), and her employees who are contract workers, get W-9 forms, which obligates them to pay their fair share. You don’t have to be a legal resident to get a TIN. I picked up today’s Denver Post, and read that Qwest’s CEO, Edward Mueller was paid $13.4 million in 2010!, yet his company paid ZERO taxes. Jeanette and I are in the same club, because we paid way more income tax than multi-billion-dollar Qwest did.

    I have hired many contractors in my various businesses, and I’m not aware of any of them being illegal, however, I do know that some of them would get in trouble by getting a traffic ticket, not showing up in court (because they would have to miss work, and not get paid), then they would get stopped again, and hauled to jail for the outstanding ticket and the new ticket. Then they would lose their driver’s licenses and their jobs. Next, they drive anyway because they need to drive to work (don’t we all?), then eventually they’re pulled over again, and of course, in jail again. It is worse for illegals, because here in Colorado, they aren’t allowed to even apply for a license in the first place. This seems a little odd to me, how about you? I’ve never met an illegal who didn’t WANT to get a license, we just won’t let them. Plus, without a license, you cannot get insurance. People do what they have to do, to survive.

    So, after all this reporting, I decided to ask myself what I would do if I was living in a country where my safety, and the safety of my family was in jeopardy. I don’t think I would waste my life battling it out, probably dying young and seeing my family suffer horribly. Probably I would go to a new place, a new town, or a new country if I had to. This would be an act of desperation, but I would do it, and deal with the consequences later. That is what intelligent, hard-working people often do. I’m lucky, and all Americans are lucky that we don’t have to make choices like that.

    I thought it was terrible that so many illegals don’t speak English. In my own experience living abroad, I spent several hours every day studying the language of the land, so I could fit in better. After three years I could speak bad Russian. I think if I had to work 12 hours a day to put food on the table, and take care of kids, I would never have learned as little as I did. Most illegals are in that category. They simply do not have time to spend a couple of hours a day studying English. They wish they did have time, they know they must learn, but they don’t.

    Going into this story, I assumed that any immigrant could just go to some government agency, fill in some forms, and wait a month or so, and presto, legal status! Boy, was I wrong. The way it is now, they have to leave their job, their family, and their home, return to their native country, and while the family is in the States starving or taking welfare, the illegal back home is waiting and waiting, sometimes for a year or more, and often getting a NO answer. That’s why most illegals don’t risk doing it that way. Would you?

    Many people, including me, thought that simply entering the country without a visa is a crime. Wrong again! In the sense that civil law differs from criminal law, entering the country illegally is a civil offense, in other words, not even as bad as driving without a license. Some people would say crime is crime, no matter how bad. I have friends who have gotten tickets for driving while intoxicated, or driving while suspended, which are misdemeanors, but I don’t think of them as criminals. I have gotten tickets for speeding, and paid the fine, just like Jeanette did, but I don’t think I am a criminal. In a way, our immigration laws already take into account what kind of person has come to the USA. Any Cuban who floats across the sea and lands on the shore is in, just like that. Same with Russian Jews and Russian Evangelical Christians. Bingo! Why so liberal with them, and not others?

    I have learned a lot, reporting, shooting and editing this story, and I hope you have too.

  • There is an old adage that the simpler the solution, the less you understand the problem. That is the essence of our current “debate” over immigration policy in the US.

    Robert’s story provides a touching, human face to an issue that needs to be discussed in thoughtful terms. For the economic future of our country, we need to face the reality that the entire industrialized world is facing a demographic challenge. Our economy (and all of the leading industrialized economies), led by the aging baby boomers, will need quality workers as the baby boom generation steps off the stage–more workers than native populations will provide. (See Friedman, The Next 100 Years, for a fascinating discussion of this issue.)

    How do we humanely deal with the immigrants who are already here helping us build our country? How do we get the best and the brightest, and weed out those who are undesirable? Simplistic solutions, espoused on either side of the political debate, miss thoughtful replies to these questions.

    TC Boyle’s moving 1995 novel, The Tortilla Curtain, was my first introduction to the world that we white, privileged folks never see. The risk borne by those just wanting a better life is beyond our simple comprehension. And the cost of lost human capital is staggering. Robert’s story put a very human face on the insanity of our current immigration policies.

    I hope you air it more broadly, with a lively forum discussion on the issues raised.

  • She is here illegally, does not pay her personal taxes, is a threat to all drivers as she doesn’t have insurance and she is taking a job (jobs) from legal citizens. On the other hand she helps support her husband and children, is not a criminal, and does contribute to the GNP as a consumer. If you were in the same situation, you too would have come here to escape the violence and turmoil, but you would have learned the language, paid your taxes, assimilated and tried to carry your share of the load. One catch,….ther is no legal way for illegal aliens to pay taxes. So you just try to live under the radarand keep taking all the handouts.

  • @duane H @Duane: Have a read on my entry below, on how illegals do pay taxes. I forgot to mention that they do pay property taxes, either directly or through rent, which pays for schools and police, and they pay sales taxes. Jeanette has paid income taxes, using the TIN issued her, and she will continue to do so, until she is deported and her American children will go on welfare. Except for the baby, they are not on public assistance now.

  • My father is a British citizen who never got his green card renewed and was here illegally. He has a SS#, pays taxes, has worked here since the 80′s and has an American Wife and his three children. He had to follow the same guidelines as everyone else and had to either pay a huge fine or become a citizen. It’s just how this country is, and Jeanette Vizguerra should follow the law like all the European citizens do.

  • @VanessaAves If “all the European citizens” follow the law, then your father must be the lone exception given that ,according to you, he *broke the law* by being here illegally. Or did he just decide to obey the law once he decided to stop breaking it?

  • Lawyer Bromley makes a good point that globalization makes population isolation less and less possible (though he does not state it, he references Thomas Freidman) which means we can keep on trying harder with what we know does not work (that vector is insanity) or we can de-criminalize those things which are not bad per se and deal with the changing world in a rational sense. Given the state of federal law on several fronts (marijuana, tax code, immigration, others) it is an open question whether or not our “representative government” (which has decided to represent money, instead of people [see "debt ceiling extension"]) is actually able to do this.

  • George Friedman

  • @Robert Tonsing Ooops. I was thinking Thom “Flat Earth” Freidman and am not familiar with Geo. Spank me!

  • Great thoughtful documentary on a tough, thorny subject.

  • So we have some outstanding questions, let’s see if we can get answers to them.

    Illegal immigrants are not allowed to get driver’s licenses in Colorado. So can they buy auto insurance without a driver’s license? can they register a vehicle and buy license tags without a driver’s license?

    I know it is perfectly legal for a foreigner to operate a business in the US and pay taxes on the business. There are tens of thousands of foreign companies with US subsidiaries or branch offices and they pay taxes. These days, with the Internet, I wouldn’t be surprised if you could operate a business in the US legally without ever even coming here.

    I also know it is possible for a foreigner to pay taxes through a TIN (Taxpayer Identification Number) instead of a Social Security number. I am not sure how difficult it is to get a TIN and if any illegal can do that.

    According to this story on Public Radio International’s The World yesterday, one American woman married an illegal, went to ICE to get him legalized, and he was immediately deported and barred from the US for 20 years.

    http://www.theworld.org/2011/09/deportees-wives-club/

    But Vanessa Aves says her British father was illegal, just paid a fine and became legal. Why such a dramatic difference? Are British illegals treated differently?

    Ann Imse

    Editor

    Colorado Public News

    @VanessaAves

    @Robert Tonsing

    @colobromley

    @anewsbreaker

    @Bill Menezes

    @auroraresident

    @duane H

  • “We changed our immigration laws in 1996, essentially enacting a scorched earth policy with respect to those people who are here unauthorized,” Chishti said. “And we made this law retroactive so it applied to people who had no knowledge that this was going to affect them. And we removed the discretion from judges to take into account other factors in their lives or to waive these things.”

    “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

    Maybe we should recap Emma Lazarus’ sonnet to say “and I will shut the golden door on your fingers.”

  • I should note that the two quotes are from different sources. The first is from the PRI story that Ann Imse references. The second is from the sonnet on the plaque attached to the base of the Statue of Liberty. My comment makes them look like they are from the same source.

  • Wikipedia has a good page to start looking for answers on US immigration law at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_immigration_laws

    and there overview of US immigration issues is here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immigration_to_the_United_States

  • Congratulations on a piece that finally exposes the myth of “anchor babies” and gives a hint about what life is like for this all-but-invisible segment of our society. I’m so sorry for Jeanette Vizguerra and her family that she has to go through this. I think if more people could get to know hard-working immigrants personally, there would be less hate against them and more chance for more realistic and better immigration law.

  • Answers to some of your questions, emailed to Colorado Public News from Mark Couch, spokesman for the Colorado Department of Revenue.

    1. Is it possible for an illegal immigrant to obtain a Colorado driver’s license?

    No. The Department is required by state law to check for a driver’s license applicant’s lawful presence in the country.

    2.. If an illegal immigrant cannot get a Colorado driver’s license, can he buy auto insurance without it?

    A driver’s license is not required to own a vehicle in Colorado. Individuals do insure vehicles even though they may not be driving them. One example: I might want to have insurance coverage on the ’67 Mustang I am storing until I can repair it, because I want to be covered if it is stolen.

    3. 3. If an illegal immigrant cannot get a Colorado driver’s license, can he register a vehicle and buy license plates without it?

    A vehicle owner is not required to have a valid driver’s license to register a car. Instead, the vehicle registrant must show secure and verifiable identification to title and/or register a vehicle. This list of acceptable documents is posted on our website and is provided here:

    • U.S. Passport or U.S. Passport Card, current or expired less than 10 years.

    • Valid foreign passport with I-94 or valid processed for I551 stamps. Exception: Canadian Passport may not have I-94 attached.

    • Valid I-94 issued by U.S. Immigration with L1 or R1 status and a valid Canadian drivers license or valid Canadian identification card.

    • Valid I551 Resident Alien/Permanent Resident card. No border crosser or USA B1/B2 Visa/BCC cards.

    • Valid I688 Temporary Resident, I688B, and I766 Employment Authorization Card with intact photo.

    • Valid US Military ID (active duty, dependent, retired, reserve and National Guard).

    • Tribal Identification Card with intact photo. (U.S. or Canadian)

    • Certificate of Naturalization with intact photo.

    • Certificate of (US) Citizenship with intact photo.

  • This is like South Africa before the repeal of apartheid – workers being arrested for traveling between home and work because of arbitrary identification. Her children are American citizens. Her husband is here legally. The Matricula Consular should be sufficient identification. Let’s have fair play for Jeanette! @Guillermo Lazo

  • All the money and time being wasted on trying to get rid of this person who is an asset to this country, doing more than most people who are privileged enough to be born here. They need to just let her pay her ticket, let her stay and take care of her family, and let her continue contributing to our way of life. Focus the little resources we have in finding a real answer to this problem.

  • This story is so thoughtful, and an example of what public TV/radio can do with time and the intent to go beyond the usual quickie sound bite. It clears up misconceptions (the anchor baby issue, as one instance, and the fact that she pays taxes). It presents a balanced story about a woman who is working so hard to support herself and her family. I cannot imagine being “illegal” in this country, where being able to have an “identity” is so important, and so difficult for those who are not privy to the easy paths I have had.

    It made me think about what I learned in college, and relearned a few years ago from research I did during the Tancredo ascendancy and heated discussion about immigration and “illegals,” about our country’s spotty, even racist, immigration policies, of who could easily emigrate to this country — and who could not. I don’t think we have become any more intelligent on this subject, but you have addressed that issue, too.

    For that, I thank you.

  • How refreshing to see a thoughtful, nuanced look at immigration issues instead of the usual rant.

  • My heart goes out to Jeanette and every other hardworking mom who risks being torn away from her family because of our country’s broken immigration system. We need laws that keep families together!

  • This is a telling story of just one person who represents the thousands of immigrants facing a similar situation. Illegal Immigration continues to be one of the most polarized issues of our time yet we as a country are not looking for possible solutions to the current system that does not address hardworking individuals that seek to contribute in many ways to this great country. It has taken us nearly 40 years as a nation to dialogue about the civil rights movement/race relations because of pop culture books and movies like “The Help” :yet what many immigrants are experiencing today is little known and Americas “dirty little secret.” The scary part is that we as nation, knowing what we know from past experience, will stand by as we watch an entire group of people live life in the shadows, in fear of government and local police, and no legitimate path to make “right” their decision to come here in search of a better life. Shame on us for wanting to shut the doors now that their labor, sweat and dreams are no longer needed! The myth of UNDOCUMENTED person not paying taxes continues to be a stale argument, EVERYONE pays sales tax on items we buy everyday that goes back into our roads, infrastructure and city governments. The cities in turn hold on to that revenue and many times to do not re-invest in the cities in which we and the immigrants populations live. I really appreciate this story, it’s time we enter into a broader discussion and realize that no issue is truly just black or white and immigration policy should take the individual into consideration. i’d like to think the great majority of our country believes in doing the right thing by families, values hard-work, and that dreams for ourselves and are futures are part of the American ideal.

  • Everytime I read something like this it really gives me more motivation to keep fighting for immigrant rights and families such as Jeanette’s. My prayers are with her. Pa’lante Jeanette!!!!

  • Does immigrations pick and choose who to keep and not keep?
    The country should focus more on serious criminals and those who pose a threat to national security.
    Everyone deserves a chance and should abide by the laws that we all follow as upstanding citizens.

  • @shelly G Referring to the video, ICE has priorities, as to who they spend time trying to deport and who they don’t. They are limited by budget to deport as many as 400,000, and by stated policy, the priority is on getting the dangerous criminals deported. But half of those deported are not criminals at all. Ultimately, ICE does not do the deporting anyhow, Immigration Court does that. The court has discretion, just like any court. Say you get a speeding ticket and go to court…some judges will let you plea it down to a lesser charge, some will dismiss, some will throw the book at you.

    Since Obama took office, the ICE policy has been to concentrate on serious criminals. However, their ample budget means they go after non-criminals too. The President recently re-stated that priority for deportations should be on serious criminals, and not, for instance, on high school kids who want to go on to college, who were brought to the US illegally by their parents.

  • The Colorado Springs Gazette has posted an interesting editorial concerning this article, which they printed. It is a lively discussion. http://www.gazette.com/opinion/let-125576-packing-reason.html

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  • This is a comment from a legal immigrant who is still in the process, 16 years later:

    Migrant, Emigrant, Immigrant has a meaning, and has many reasons. The meaning is that you move, in or out but you have to move. The reasons are survival and hope for a better future. The fact is that you replace your certainties with the unknown. The hope is that you moved, migrated in the right direction.

    No one would leave the country where you were born, where you had family, you know the language, have friends, and had a good life unless there was a good reason. I left my country in my ’50s, and I left with my wife and kids searching for a place where law and order was the standard, not an accident. We came into this great nation of immigrants via the legal path. We never got out of “status” so we never broke the law! Legally moving from status to status to become a permanent resident proved to be extremely complicated and costly process.

    Student visa, work permit, work visa and finally permanent residency. It is very hard to start your life at an age when most Americans are retiring. You are a number, you are considered old, you are from another country, you have an accent, and you have to prove your worth to others, time and time again in order to survive and to stay legal. What the immigration issue does not allow to understand, is the fact that we immigrants come here not to take away opportunities from the Americans, but to search for a better future as a byproduct of our work and experience. We are here to give, to contribute, to work, to share! We have given our best years, our experience, our knowledge, our culture, and hard working hours to improve ourselves, and help the country where dreams can come true.

    No system is perfect, but by definition, its own imperfections provide room for improvement. Some of us have been lucky and have been able to navigate the waters of the legalities of the process, but for those who have not been so fortunate, their hard work, tenacity and ingenuity are the best resources they have to prove their worth in searching for a better future in this great nation under the umbrella of the law.

  • @Robert Tonsing

    Very insightful comment. Especially telling is the closing sentence; “.. under the umbrella of the law”.

    So, with that in mind, this subject woman had a TIN, purportedly paid taxes, yet still had ‘multiple’ forged social security numbers. Never mind all the other ‘infractions’ of the law. She is completely out of the umbrella of the law.

    Every excuse I’ve read, (in the comments), concerning her short comings at following the law, are very weak gloss overs of the truth, which is, she did not obey the laws, (regardless of excuses). That is a plain and simple fact. Even her son, at a young age, achieved legal status!

    Without laws, this country would become like Mexico. It is one reason why people are fleeing in droves. Here, every person, politician and visitor has to uphold the laws as they are presented. If any law is unjust, it needs to be changed through legal means. Certainly not circumvented to fit one’s own desire.

  • @mtndude Her son achieved legal status by being born here. For him, it was not a choice. Also, I don’t excuse it, but I must say, every person I know has broken the law from time to time. It doesn’t make them criminals.

  • @Robert Tonsing From the story line above: ” Her oldest child, born in Mexico, is now 21, lives in Aurora and has obtained legal status.”

    The laws she broke are felonies, not minor traffic violations. Going out on a limb here, but, I’m pretty sure every one of your friends are not felons or have committed felonies. I do see your point in minor infractions, like parking tickets, etc.

  • @mtndude To be clear, I don’t defend Jeanette or anyone who breaks the law. I just try to put it in context with the facts. Her only son, who is 5, was born here. Here eldest daughter, who is irrelevant, is an adult, and has a family of her own, and was not part of the story. Maybe she married a citizen. We don’t know that. Jeanette did not commit any felonies. She was accused of that by the Sheriff, but the sheriff has chosen to overlook two facts. First, the US Supreme Court ruled that if you make up a SSN, you did not commit identity theft. Second, she was not convicted of any felony, ever. Many people are accused of crimes. Here in the US, we are innocent until proven guilty, so she is only guilty of what she is convicted of, same as anyone else. Those charges were dismissed because she didn’t commit identity theft, she committed the misdemeanor crime of having a forged document.

    I provide the context of the severity of her crime because many people can relate to it. By far, the most serious crime anyone I know has committed, is DUI. And what she has done pales in comparison. By a mile.

  • @Robert Tonsing Her oldest child is a daughter, I thought, somehow, the child was a son, my mistake. However, if you can bring unrelated people into this discussion, not a part of this documentary, how is it that her own child is ‘irrelevant’ and was most certainly mentioned in the story. True, it wasn’t mentioned the child is a daughter.

    “She was charged with felony identity theft because one of the social security numbers belonged to someone else. She pled guilty to a lesser charge — misdemeanor possession of a forged instrument. She spent 23 days in jail.” – from the story.

    Not being convicted of a felony is good for this woman. She reached a plea bargain.

    A sheriff’s job is not to be a lawyer, it is to simply follow the law and set charges as applicable. Plea bargains are reached through the DA’s office, often, due to case overload, these types of agreements are offered to the accused. The severity of the offenses are still on the arrest record, even though the outcome of those charges are different. That is a fact.

  • @mtndude The eldest daughter is not relevant to Jeanette’s situation in any way. She is an adult, on her own with her own story, and has no influence on her mother or her mother’s case. Why do you think otherwise?

    What you overlook is that while Jeanette was accused of a felony, the United States Supreme Court has decided that if someone simply makes up a SSN, he or she is not guilty of identity theft. Period. The Sheriff is misguided in his conclusion. He needs to pay attention to that. He is not a lawyer, but he does need to understand the law. Jeanette did not plea bargain. She didn’t need to. The Supreme Court defined the law, and the prosecutors understood that she was not charged with the appropriate offense. This is not a plea bargain. That is the fact of this, and any other case where the charges put forth by the police do not fit the criteria of the assumed crime. A plea bargain is where you commit a crime, but the prosecution doesn’t have the time or the will or the budget to push it, so they let you off with a lesser crime. This is not what happened in this case. If you don’t like the law, write to your congressman.

  • @Robert Tonsing Robert, the daughter is relevant in that she was born in Mexico and has now obtained legal status. Isn’t that what this situation is about, obtaining legal status? In that way, her daughter achieved legal status, it is relevant and it is mentioned in the story. I do not have any facts on how the daughter got that status, I am only commenting on the contents of this story as presented. This leads me to believe the same road, if an option, is open to the mother, (perhaps through her husband).

    The subject woman, Jeanette Vizguerra, plead guilty to a lesser charge. Is that not a plea arraignment?

    Again, for clarification as stated in the above story: “She was charged with felony identity theft because one of the social security numbers belonged to someone else. She pled guilty to a lesser charge — misdemeanor possession of a forged instrument.”

    That, my friend, sure sounds to me like a plea bargain. How you can inject or read so much more into this must be due to your closeness to the family. I am only taking the words of this story as factual. Are they?

    I cannot guess what the DA or the Sheriff or anyone else might have said, thought or ‘should have known or done’. Say what you will, but the facts remain. she is not following the laws of this country. Hopefully, she will start and be able to stay. I am finished with any further talk on this and I do appreciate your ‘insight’, especially in changing the laws, as I had mentioned.

  • Laws, laws, laws! People: laws can be changed! It used to be illegal for whites and blacks to marry. The law was changed! It was illegal for blacks to vote. The law was changed. Jeanette has children who are US citizens, her husband has resident status. Why are they targeting her? It is because she has spoken out against the injustice. The IRS has a provision for adjusting incorrect social security numbers. It is an administrative adjustment. OPEN YOUR EYES! Is Jeanette a threat to this country to her community? She wants equal justice. Jeanette Vizguerra is a heroine for her cause. They want to deport her to keep her from speaking out. If she had remained silent, she would never have come to the attention of ICE. She has a lot of energy, runs a business employs people. She’s not on the dole. WE HAVE THE POWER TO CHANGE THE LAW. Guillermo

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