An undocumented immigrant rights activist, who has been fighting against her own deportation order, has been named as one of TIME’s 100 most influential people.
Jeanette Vizguerra, born in Mexico and from Denver, Colorado, was nominated by actor America Ferrera, who has long been vocal on immigration rights issues.
“Jeanette moved to the U.S. to be a janitor, working as an outspoken union organizer and building her own company before becoming an advocate for immigration reform — a bold and risky thing for an undocumented immigrant,” wrote Ferrera about Vizguerra, who herself was honored by Time in 2007.
“She came to this country not to rape, murder or sell drugs, but to create a better life for her family. She shed blood sweat and tears to become a business owner, striving to give her children more opportunities than she had. This is not a crime. This is the American Dream,” Ferrera continued.
Of her being named on the annual list that recognizes 100 of the most influential people in the world, Vizguerra said: “I am deeply honored, and thank Time for including me with such a stellar constellation of individuals. This recognition is a result of my eight years of struggle against my own deportation, and an acknowledgment of my 20 years of contributing to the economy of this country as an immigrant: even here in sanctuary, this week I made sure to file my taxes. Above all, I hope this recognition serves as an example of my love and dedication to my children Tania, Luna, Roberto, and Zury.”
Vizguerra, who has taken shelter in a Denver "sanctuary church" since U.S. President Donald Trump was elected, told Democracy Now! that although she is undocumented, she has been contributing to "American society for 20 years."
“Every year, we have paid taxes,” she said. “And we’ve contributed our labor. And what many people don’t know is that immigrants can’t access the benefits of those taxes, any of the programs. That all stays here with this country. So I would like to ask: If you’re going to deport me, are you going to return 20 years of labor and taxes to me before I go, everything that I’ve contributed here?”