Immigrant leaves Denver church after winning delay from feds

Jeanette Vizguerra left the First Unitarian Church near the state Capitol surrounded by her children and supporters. Speaking to the crowd while holding her daughter's hand, she said she is happy to be with her family for Mother's Day but sad that Ingrid Encalada Latorre is still living in a Quaker meeting house in Denver because she's facing removal from the United States

DENVER | A Mexican immigrant who lived in a Denver church for three months to avoid deportation walked away on Friday after her supporters said immigration officials gave her two more years to resolve her effort to stay in the country.

Jeanette Vizguerra (vihz-GEHR’-uh) left the First Unitarian Church near the state Capitol surrounded by her children and supporters.

Jeanette Vizguerra, Arturo Hernandez

Jeanette Vizguerra, left, a Mexican immigrant who has lived in a church to avoid immigration authorities for the past three months, and Arturo Hernandez, a Mexican man who was granted a two-year deportation delay, react to the words of speakers after Vizguerra left the church early Friday, May 12, 2017, in downtown Denver. Supporters say that Vizguerra has also won a two-year deportation delay. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Jeanette Vizguerra

Surrounded by her children, Jeanette Vizguerra, front center, a Mexican immigrant who has lived in a church to avoid immigration authorities for the past three months, steps out of the church early Friday, May 12, 2017, in downtown Denver. Supporters say that Vizguerra has won a two-year deportation delay. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Jeanette Vizguerra

Jeanette Vizguerra, front, a Mexican immigrant who has lived in a church to avoid immigration authorities for the past three months, is surrounded by her family and supporters as she heads to speak after leaving the church early Friday, May 12, 2017, in downtown Denver. Supporters say that Vizguerra has won a two-year deportation delay. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Jeanette Vizguerra

A supporter waves a placard as Jeanette Vizguerra, a Mexican immigrant who has lived in a church to avoid immigration authorities for the past three months, speaks after leaving the church early Friday, May 12, 2017, in downtown Denver. Supporters say that Vizguerra has won a two-year deportation delay. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Jeanette Vizguerra

Surrounded by supporters Jeanette Vizguerra, center, a Mexican immigrant who has lived in a church to avoid immigration authorities for the past three months, heads to a news conference after leaving the church early Friday, May 12, 2017, in downtown Denver. Supporters say that Vizguerra has won a two-year deportation delay. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Jeanette Vizguerra

Jeanette Vizguerra, a Mexican immigrant who has lived in a church to avoid immigration authorities for the past three months, smiles after leaving the church early Friday, May 12, 2017, in downtown Denver. Supporters say that Vizguerra has won a two-year deportation delay. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Arturo Hernandez

Arturo Hernandez, a Mexican immigrant who once took refuge in a church to avoid immigration authorities, speaks early Friday, May 12, 2017, in downtown Denver after fellow Mexican immigrant Jeanette Vizguerra left the church that she had been living in for the past three months to avoid authorities. Supporters say that both Hernandez and Vizguerra have won a two-year deportation delay. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Jeanette Vizguerra

Surrounded by her family and supporters, Jeanette Vizguerra, right, a Mexican immigrant who has lived in a church to avoid immigration authorities for the past three months, speaks after leaving the church early Friday, May 12, 2017, in downtown Denver. Supporters say that Vizguerra has won a two-year deportation delay. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Jeanette Vizguerra

Surrounded by her children, Jeanette Vizguerra, second from right, a Mexican immigrant who has lived in a church to avoid immigration authorities for the past three months, smiles after leaving the church early Friday, May 12, 2017, in downtown Denver. Supporters say that Vizguerra has won a two-year deportation delay. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Jeanette Vizguerra

Jeanette Vizguerra, a Mexican immigrant who has lived in a church to avoid immigration authorities for the past three months, smiles after leaving the church early Friday, May 12, 2017, in downtown Denver. Supporters say that Vizguerra has won a two-year deportation delay. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Speaking to the crowd while holding her daughter’s hand, she said she is happy to be with her family for Mother’s Day but sad that Ingrid Encalada Latorre is still living in a Quaker meeting house in Denver because she’s facing removal from the United States.

“My energy will be to fight for her,” Vizguerra said in Spanish through an interpreter.

Vizguerra first moved into the basement of the First Unitarian Church after skipping a check-in with immigration officials Feb. 15 out of fearing they would deport her after previously granting delays as she pursued a visa given to crime victims. She later moved to the Baptist church.

Activists said another immigrant who had taken refuge in a Denver church in 2014 and 2015, Arturo Hernandez, was also granted a two-year delay in deportation proceedings on Thursday.

Hernandez was arrested by immigration agents on April 24, but he was later released after U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet intervened. Hernandez was initially given a 30-day delay.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement did not respond to requests for comment on their status.

Bennet introduced bills to legalize the immigration status of both Hernandez and Vizguerra under a procedure that ICE recently announced it is changing. “These Coloradans have lived in our state for years, contributed to our economy and should have never been targets for deportation in the first place,” he said in a statement.

In a May 5 letter to lawmakers, ICE acting director Thomas Homan said the agency will now only hold off deporting immigrants with legislation pending on their behalf for up to six months with the possibility of one 90-day extension. In the past, some extensions could go on for years as so-called private bills were renewed.