A Mexican mother of four is seeking refuge inside a church in Denver, Colorado to avoid being deported by federal immigration authorities.
Jeanette Vizguerra, who has lived in the U.S. for over 20 years and has three children ages 6, 10, and 12 — all born in the U.S. — said she fears being deported after the White House announced a stricter stance on illegal immigration.
She decided to stay at the First Unitarian Society church after Immigration and Enforcement officials refused to grant her another "stay of removal" while waiting for the outcome of her visa application, according to the CS Monitor.
Vizguerra has applied for a U.S. visa, which is often given to people who have been victimised by crime. She was already given five extensions during the Obama administration, because officers understand that applications like these can last over two to three years.
But during her scheduled check-in with Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) officials in the Denver suburb of Centennial, Vizguerra failed to show up. Her lawyer Hans Meyer and a minister went in lieu of her, and they were told that her sixth extension would not be granted.
"This is a big, huge red flare that the Trump administration has plans to deport as many people as possible," said Meyer.
ICE spokesman Shawn Neudauer said Vizguerra was an "enforcement priority" because she had two misdemeanor convictions. The first one was for using falsified documents, and the second one was for re-entering the U.S. illegally after going to Mexico for her mother's funeral.
Vizguerra, who is a former union organiser and house cleaner, said the crimes for which she stands accused were related to her work in the country. She admitted that she forged her identity documents and Social Security number because she wanted to have a job to support her family.
"You can see the reasons behind me why I am fighting so hard to win my case," she said.
Meanwhile, several economic experts have warned that Trump should be careful with his new immigration policy because the U.S. economy and workforce would actually be a "disaster" without immigrants, ABC News reported.
"If all immigrants were just to disappear from the U.S. workforce tomorrow, that would have a tremendous negative impact on the economy," said Daniel Costa, the director of immigration law and policy research at the Economic Policy Institute, an economic research think tank based in Washington, D.C.
"Immigrants are overrepresented in a lot of occupations in both low- and high-skilled jobs," he explained. "You'd feel an impact and loss in many, many different occupations and industries, from construction and landscape to finance and IT" if they are deported to their home countries.