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Kara MasonKara MasonAugust 1, 20173min2093

Eight German exchange students headed for Salida got a taste of increasing political tensions regarding immigration policy in the U.S. over the weekend.

Before being detained at Denver International Airport, immigration officials “insisted they (the students) were coming in and taking work away from U.S. citizens, which is illegal since they have no work visa,” Susan Masterson, who has coordinated the exchange program for six years, told the Salida Mountain Mail.

Masterson said she was at the airport when the students were detained.

The students that planned on spending three weeks in the southern Colorado mountain town ended up spending Friday night in a detention facility. Meanwhile Masterson said she was in contact with state Rep. Jim Wilson, the governor’s office, Congressman Doug Lamborn’s office and Sen. Michael Bennet’s office.

But none could prevent the students, all 18 years old, from being deported back to Germany. Immigration enforcement officials determined the students were attempting to enter the country on the wrong visa, a tourist visa.

Masterson said she was blown away by the outpouring of support from different agencies. The Mountain Mail reported that Masterson wrote in a letter to the German families Lamborn’s office did everything they could to help, but “nothing could be done.”

“We’ve never had a problem like this before,” Masterson told Colorado Politics, adding that she has connections to the German school the students were coming from and hasn’t had a visa problem any of the years since she began the program.

So, was the incident a result of the contentious political climate surrounding immigration?

“Oh I think so,” Masterson said. “Controls have definitely tightened.”

The students have returned to their families, Masterson said. But “they don’t have a very good impression of our country.”

Masterson said she’s hoping to get the community to send some sort of letter to the students, so they know they’re welcomed in Salida.



Joey BunchJoey BunchMay 12, 20174min263

Jeanette Vizguerra was supposed to be deported from Colorado Friday after living, working and raising kids in the United States for two decades, but instead, as Erica Meltzer of Denverite reported Thursday, U.S, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has granted the undocumented resident a two-year stay.

Arturo Hernandez, another Mexican citizen living in Denver without documentation, will be free to make a case to stay until March 15, 2019, as well.

Hernandez has been held in an ICE detention facility but will now be able to attend his daughter’s graduation, advocates said. Vizguerra has been living in sanctuary in the basement of Denver’s First Unitarian Society Church since February.

A labor union activist, Vizguerra particularly has become an immigration championed nationwide by activists and Democrats to push back against President Trump’s immigration-enforcement crackdown.

They stress that such public policy destroys families. Vizguerra has four children, three of whom are American-born and younger than 12.

“Our system is tearing many other families apart,” Vizguerra said in a statement from the Metro Denver Sanctuary Coalition. “I will continue to lead the fight to keep families together, to grow the capacity of sanctuary and of my community to resist deportation and exploitation.”

State Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, has championed the pushback on Trump’s immigration policies and was elated about the turn of events. Salazar is a candidate for Colorado attorney general next year.

“I am very happy about the decision to return Jeanette to her family,” he said Friday morning, reached by text message. “Above all else, we are a nation of compassion. Jeanette and her family deserve our support.”

Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet of Denver said in a statement of the two undocumented Coloradans, “I am pleased to hear that Jeanette and Arturo have been granted temporary stays. We have been working closely with them on their cases—coordinating with their lawyers, and we introduced private bills for each in the Senate.

“These Coloradans have lived in our state for years, contributed to our economy, and should never have been targets for deportation in the first place. While I’m glad the stays will give Jeanette and Arturo more time to receive due process, this is also a reminder that there are many more families like theirs across the country experiencing similar fear and uncertainty. We must continue fighting for policies that keep families together and fix our broken immigration system.”

Editor’s note: Colorado Politics is trying to reach opponents of the immigration stay for comment. This blog will be updated if they choose to weigh in.



Colorado PoliticsColorado PoliticsNovember 16, 201620min386

DENVER — Happy Wednesday to you! Hard to believe we are only eight days away from Thanksgiving. And this year we have much to be thankful for … Possibly for just getting through the nearly two-year 2016 election cycle. We all deserve an extra slice a pie for surviving it all. As soon as you down that last bite, start getting ready for 2018! Better yet, get a head start on your competitor and start preparing now. Yes, you do need to return from Vegas, as attractive as it is to homestead there forever. Lots of interesting stories from the Colorado press during the last 24 hours. While there have been fewer anti-Trump protests, we are seeing a strong reaction — for some a soothing comfort food, for others some late night fast food that just didn't settle quite right — from a clearly independent Colorado to the coming Trump presidency. ENJOY!