Denver Church Offers Sanctuary to Immigration Activist Jeanette Vizguerra… Again

By Brian Oaster

After two years of relative freedom, immigration activist Jeanette Vizguerra will again enter the doors of Denver’s First Unitarian Society church.

Denver was among the 23 American ‘sanctuary cities’ to stand their ground against new federal anti-immigration policies, prompting Trump to target them with executive orders in early 2017.

During that year, Denver offered Jeanette Vizguerra 86 days of shelter in the Unitarian church on Capitol Hill. Vizguerra, a mother of four and native of Mexico, was named among Time’s 100 most influential people of 2017. She described her time in the church as three “very difficult months” in which she missed her children, but continued to struggle on for other mothers facing ICE just like her.

Vizguerra emerged from the church when she was granted a two year stay of deportation. On Friday, however, that two years expired, and now she’s taken shelter again in the church walls.

ICE Rampage Does Not Discriminate Between Immigrants With and Without Criminal Records

New data shows the ICE has arrested a record number of undocumented immigrants without criminal records. Although ICE was founded by George W. Bush and continued its rampage through the Obama years, Trump has enabled the allegedly non-Nazi branch of institutionalized xenophobia to execute their violence less discriminately.

During the last month of the Obama administration, 82 percent of immigrants arrested by ICE had some kind of other criminal record. Information released Thursday shows that, as of December, that number has fallen to a record low of 63.5 percent. Trump’s enthusiasm for breaking up otherwise law abiding immigrant families goes against campaign narrative of immigrants being ‘bad hombres,’ e.g. rapists and murderers. Instead of going after dangerous criminals, he’s authorizing ICE to spend its budget targeting vulnerable working class mothers like Vizguerra.

“It’s ridiculous to call it a national emergency,” Vizguerra said of the Trump administration’s stance on immigration. “They want to put up a wall, when there are national emergencies inside the country, like public health, the environment, housing. We have lots of youth who, when they come on hard times, must sleep on the streets. They are American citizens, and they are not extending a helping hand to them.”

ICE: A Sinkhole of Public Money That Makes America Less Safe

According to Douglas Rivlin of immigrant advocacy group America’s Voice, ICE has enough money to deport 400,000 people per year. By deporting more noncriminal immigrants, ICE is spending that money to effectively decrease public safety.

ICE employs 20,000 non-Nazis both home and abroad. In 2017 these patriots received $6.7 billion in federal funds and used it to make 41,342 arrests, including 32,958 “criminal” and 8,384 “administrative” arrests. That’s roughly $203,289 per criminal caught. Their “service to the public” also included the issuance of $97 million in judicial fines to employers offering jobs to undocumented immigrants, perhaps to offset the cost of such extravagant spending of public funds. This year, ICE has requested an operating budget of $8.8 billion, over $2 billion more than they spent in 2017, although the apprehension of dangerous criminals is in decline.

In 2016, the Obama’s White House bestowed the highest civil service award upon acting director of ICE, former New York cop, and definitely-not-a-Nazi Thomas Homan for being super great at deporting people. “I sit here in the morning and I get frustrated,” he blubbered about his really hard job and ugly media image. “People don’t understand what we do or how we do it. They just make assumptions.”

Some of those assumptions, like the assumption that ICE are in fact Nazis after all, come from actual holocaust survivors.

Anti-Immigrant European Americans, ‘Pack Up and Go Back’

After two years with her family, Vizguerra choked back sobs in the arms of her children and prepared to reenter sanctuary. Her legal team has sued ICE, and thousands of supporters have signed petitions to grant her Stay of Removal and approve her pending visa.

“I’m tired of hearing from people that I should go back and take my children back to Mexico,” she said. “My roots are on this continent. If you think I should go back, you should pack up and go back to yours. We pay taxes. We work hard. I’m a mother just like any other mother who will do what is best for her children every time.”

Brian Oaster

Brian is a Choctaw writer in the Pacific Northwest.