The U.S. needs college students like Jessica Colotl

WASHINGTON —  If immigrants represented the best and the brightest, we’d eagerly welcome them into the United States, right? If they learned to speak English. If they were strivers and achievers. If they worked hard and reached for the brass ring, we wouldn’t deny them the opportunity to join the American mainstream. Would we?

Yes, we would.

Jessica Colotl, 21, is a senior at Kennesaw State University, a political science major and a member of Lambda Theta Alpha, a college sorority. She wants to attend law school.

However, she came to this country illegally, with her parents, when she was a child. And her detractors don’t care what she’s accomplished since then. They want to send her back to Mexico, a country she barely knows.

Following a routine traffic stop on campus in late March, Colotl was arrested and sent to a federal detention facility to await deportation. After an outcry by friends and support from faculty members, immigration authorities agreed to defer action on her deportation for a year, giving her time to finish her undergraduate degree. Said college president Daniel Papp, “We are especially thrilled she will be allowed to continue her studies here at KSU.”

But that has infuriated some hardliners. For them, Colotl’s illegal entry is the most salient fact on her resume, her lack of a green card more important than her grade-point average. Her academic achievement, her English skills, her all-American sorority girl status — none of that placates the “WHAT PART OF ILLEGAL DON’T THEY UNDERSTAND?” crowd. As one suburban Atlanta newspaper columnist wrote, “Most citizens don’t care how much ‘potential’ the young lady has.”

The uproar, though ugly, accomplishes something important: It brushes away the layers of pretense, polite subterfuge and politically acceptable criticism. The truth is laid bare: We’re a recession-weary nation wrestling with a bout of brutal, racially-tinged nativism — seeking scapegoats for economic failure, unsettled by demographic upheaval, unable to cope with a flatter world.

The intense backlash against undocumented immigrants — especially those from south of the border — isn’t really a reaction to overtaxed public services or rising crime. (In most of the country, including Arizona, crime is down.) Instead, it’s a backlash against the dizzying pace of change, against a cultural landscape growing more diverse, against a voting base growing browner with each census.

Arizona’s ugly immigration law — which, according to polls, is supported by a majority of Americans — is one sign of the harsh climate toward those without papers. Other signs dot the political landscape: Sen. John McCain’s retreat from his earlier embrace of comprehensive immigration reform; the reluctance of a Democratic Congress to wade into the debate before mid-term elections; the eagerness of other states to copy Arizona’s brand of apartheid.

Even the nation’s Latino Republicans feel the fury of their neighbors’ xenophobia. Writing on a conservative Web site, Robert Gonzalez, a Mexican-American attorney and a Republican, described the discomfort he felt as he overheard campaign volunteers, whom he had enlisted to work in Tucson for George W. Bush, talk about Mexican immigrants:

“Some of the things I heard coming from these volunteers, regarding “the Mexicans,” shook me: about how they should be kept out, about how the border fence could not be built high enough, made it seem as if we were the real threat to American society,” he wrote.

In Georgia, Colotl’s troubles continue. She is in the gun sights of a local sheriff who says she gave him a fake address  (lying to law enforcement authorities is a crime) and of anti-immigration activists who have made her an unlikely symbol of a failed system that, they claim, unfairly subsidizes illegal immigrants. GOP gubernatorial candidate Eric Johnson, meanwhile, has proposed that illegal immigrants be shut out of the state’s colleges and universities, a plan that represents an embarrassing step backward.

But Johnson’s proposal has this virtue: It makes clear that he doesn’t care how well undocumented immigrants speak English.

845 comments Add your comment

Maniac

May 14th, 2010
3:26 pm

RRL racist, radical, liberal; this is the disease in this country today. A minority breaks the law and everybody is suppose to feel sorry for someone that broke the law. She drove without a valid license; she probably has a fraudulently obtained social security number; she probably lied her whole time about being a US citizen to get benefits due to citizens especially in-state tuition and Cynthia wants us to be on the side of this student.

Left wing liberal hypocrite…….I guess the civil rights march meant nothing to Tucker and her followers; these illegals are trouncing on the rights blood was spilled over for blacks to gain and now they feel they have the right to walk across the border and take those rights especially the right to vote.

Some Guy

May 14th, 2010
3:26 pm

Cynthia,

When your only tool is a hammer, you see everything as a nail.

Some People are stupid

May 14th, 2010
3:26 pm

You Asked-
Our grade school made us bring in proof of residency (title deed, utility bill in our name, etc). Why on earth aren’t college students supposed to do so?

That doesn’t prove she is here legally. Her parents have an address here, not the one she gave the cop but it was an address in GA.

You Asked

May 14th, 2010
3:27 pm

@ Some people are stupid

You meant “how did your ancestors come here legally?” for me…

Some came to Plymouth in the 1620s, others came through Deleware in the 1800s, they had to prove they were self sufficient and healthy to gain access to the country. Others came through New York and had their eligability determined by a physician in a 5 minute physical. If they even looked unhealthy or admitted to the wrong political affiliations they were sent back on the boat they came on.

Out immigration policy today is much more even handed and based on someones’ willingness to work. Jessica could have applied for a student visa and probably would have received one if she was willing to pay her full tuition. That is what is so sad about this case being used as a media spectacle.

Bearcat

May 14th, 2010
3:27 pm

Would people feel differently about this case is this unlicensed driver would have had an accident and killed someone? Please note, she was pulled over for a traffic violation, she was not racially profiled.

Some People are stupid

May 14th, 2010
3:27 pm

She is a GA resident(technically), but she is in the country illegally, GA Colleges allow illegal immigrants to go to school, they just have to pay out of state tuition.

You Asked

May 14th, 2010
3:28 pm

“That doesn’t prove she is here legally. Her parents have an address here, not the one she gave the cop but it was an address in GA.”

Your point being what? Its too easy to cheat the University System of Georgia or any County school district?

ctucker

May 14th, 2010
3:29 pm

Average Joe, I’m not saying she has a legal basis to stay. But there is a commonsense reason for her to stay: The country needs more college graduates.

You Asked

May 14th, 2010
3:30 pm

Some people are stupid. Yes Georgia Colleges allow illegal immigrants. I’m not calling for her deportation. I’m asking her to face up to the consequences of breaking the law. Pay her full tuition, pay any fines for lying to the police about driving without a lisence and finish her degree.

Don’t confuse me with the people calling for instant deportation.

You Asked

May 14th, 2010
3:31 pm

Ctucker

“The country needs more college graduates…”

That is a whole other discussion. Have you seen the unemployment and underemployment rates lately? Have you talked to the Cobb County teachers who were just laid off, or the UGA ed major who has been looking for a job since 2008 (AJC story from a few days ago)?

Steve

May 14th, 2010
3:32 pm

ILLEGAL…ILLEGAL…ILLEGAL…do not reward her for knowingly breaking the law.

Some People are stupid

May 14th, 2010
3:33 pm

You asked-
“…but if you see a GA address and a GA high school with ga transcripts, wouldn’t you assume she was a ga resident.”

Our grade school made us bring in proof of residency (title deed, utility bill in our name, etc). Why on earth aren’t college students supposed to do so?

My point is an aswer to your point. I originally said if she a ga transcript and ga resident , you could assume she was a residnet, you followed saying don’t they make you show proof in college, which would have made them come to the same conclusion that she was a resident.

And as far as it being fraud if someone from Al comes and does the same thing, they just would have mede said person pay the difference going forward. I know people who have done it.

Tom Middleton

May 14th, 2010
3:33 pm

You Asked @3:14 pm

Well, you must be perfect, Asked. Are you Jesus come again? No? Then “Ye without sin cast the first stone.” P.S. Your wife must be reading this blog… LOL

Some People are stupid

May 14th, 2010
3:34 pm

You asked-
I meant no malice in replying by the way

blutto

May 14th, 2010
3:35 pm

HDB @ 3:25

In other words, the “racial profiling” and requirement for American citizens to carry passports that you claimed are in the legislation are not there. Maybe if we squint real hard …

Edward Timmons

May 14th, 2010
3:37 pm

She want to be a lawyer, so she can represent the illegal immigrants that breaks our laws.

You Asked

May 14th, 2010
3:37 pm

Some People are stupid- (nice nic by the way I feel mean writing it, heh.)

I am not faulting KSU for the way they handled the issue. Although I might have asked her for back tuition. I do fault Jessica for not renewing her Visa and paying tuition she knew as a 22 year old adult she owed.

She should face the same consequences as any US citizen who lied to get in state tuition. She will also have to face the consequences of her lying to police to get out of her traffic ticket.

Had she told the truth in both cases her situation would probably be much different today. I have personal knowledge of an undocumented friend pulled over in Cherokee county for a violation. They took her keys, asked her not to drive and I was called to drive her and her vehicle home. She promised not to do it again and she was given a warning. Georgia county police are not out to deport people who are here to work or study.

HDB

May 14th, 2010
3:37 pm

You Asked May 14th, 2010
3:27 pm

As a graduate of Georgia schools, both high school and college….a student whose transcipts is DIRECTLY sent from the high school to the college needs NO identification for those transcripts to be sent; forthermore, the State Regents assume that if a school receives a Georgia school transcript, that that student IS a resident!! No further proof is required nor asked for!! If your transcripts came from OUT-OF-STATE, THEN either a student pays out-of-state fees or establishes residency (181 days)…and THEN PROOF OF RESIDENCY IS REQUIRED!! Jessica did NOT defraud KSU……

Smokewagon

May 14th, 2010
3:39 pm

Mexico needs more college graduates also.

You Asked

May 14th, 2010
3:39 pm

Tom – enjoy cherry picking the scriptures to justify your lack of an argument.

How about this for immigration laws “Render unto Caesar what is his…” or “Thou shalt not lie”?

Edward Timmons

May 14th, 2010
3:39 pm

How would this story be different if she was pulled over in Mexico?

You Asked

May 14th, 2010
3:40 pm

“I meant no malice in replying by the way”

None taken – but thank you for your consideration.

HDB

May 14th, 2010
3:41 pm

blutto May 14th, 2010
3:35 pm

Did you read the SEPARATE BILLS and the MERGED BILL?? I did….and LAWFUL CONTACT can mean whatever the police decide it is….if that’s not racial profiling, please explain what it is!! Arizona law states that proof of citizenship is an ARIZONA DRIVER’S LICENSE…and if not that, PASSPORT (the FIRST qualifier)….

It’s there….but too many don’t want to admit it!!

Tom Middleton

May 14th, 2010
3:42 pm

Some People are stupid@3:16 pm: How did your ancestors come here legally??

Vaginas, stupid. Yours were different?

You Asked

May 14th, 2010
3:42 pm

@ Edward Timmons “How would this story be different if she was pulled over in Mexico?”

She would have had a Mexican drivers lisence and she would be very, very late for her class on KSUs campus. (Sorry, couldn’t resist).

J.C.

May 14th, 2010
3:42 pm

” ‘When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.” – Leviticus 19:33-34

(For Stranger)

You Asked

May 14th, 2010
3:44 pm

J.C.

“The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born.”

That is why Jessica should be responsible for paying her proper share of tuition and any fines she receives for lying to the police about her residency. Just like any native born student.

You Asked

May 14th, 2010
3:45 pm

@ Tom Middleton

What about C sections?

Get Real

May 14th, 2010
3:47 pm

I’ll embrace her and send her back to where she came from. I’m sick and tired of illegals coming into this country and breaking the law. Let her try to go into North Korea and Iran and see what happens to her.

J.C.

May 14th, 2010
3:49 pm

2 John 1:7-11

“For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we [1] have worked for, but may win a full reward. Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.” – 2 John 1:7-11

(For You Asked)

Tom Middleton

May 14th, 2010
3:50 pm

You Asked @3:39 pm

Oh good, Asked. Then how about “Do unto others what you would have others do unto you” – one of the two basic commandments upon which “all the law and prophets are based.”

Would you throw yourself out of this country after exhibiting more true American spirit than most of the legal “patriots” you know? Remember now: “Thou shalt not lie.” OK?

GimmeABreakAlready

May 14th, 2010
3:50 pm

Cynthia,

Your articles constantly amuse and amaze me. You are constantly claiming racism and it is really old. This is NOT a case of racism, it is a case of an individual who has no right to be in the United States as she cannot produce a green card. While she may be an extremely intelligent individual, that does not give her the right to live here illegally.

I am sure she has been using tax dollars to fund her education while not returning those tax dollars by paying back in to the system. I am all for America being the “melting pot” of the world and allowing individuals seeking a better life – HOWEVER – they need to pay taxes as naturalized citizens are required to. They need to be able to support themselves and not burden an already taxed system.

I think there should be a checklist for obtaining citizenship:
1. Proof of financial stability and enough funds to support themselves/family for 6 months
2. English speaking
3. No prior criminal record

That is just a start. We should be selective as to who enters our sacred land. The land that scores of heros have fought and died to create, protect and secure. Instead, we have so many illegal aliens that are bringing down that very sacred land by overtaxing the system put in place to support individuals who really need it.

Just my two cents…

Cynthia – for the sake of peace, can you please stop the racial rants your articles spew on a daily basis….it is REALLY OLD!

J.C.

May 14th, 2010
3:52 pm

“Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” – Romans 12:13

Tom Middleton

May 14th, 2010
3:54 pm

You Asked @3:45 pm: What about C sections?

Nope, Vaginas – lots and lots of vaginas! Woohoooo! LOL

Some People are stupid

May 14th, 2010
3:55 pm

GimmeABreakAlready -
You do realize English isn’t our official language.

You Asked

May 14th, 2010
3:56 pm

J.C. – go for the Anti-christ verse. Nice. Did you know one of the definitions of anti-christ is one who teaches false doctrine. Christ taught quite clearly that we were to be honest and obey the law. He also taught that mercy did not rob justice.

I never questioned anyone’s status with God. You did that with your selective scripture lectures.

As far as I’m concerned Jessica is a faithful and redeemed soul (I have no idea if she is or isn’t). But as a person living in the USA she is responsible for obeying our laws and she is accountable for her actions if she does not.

I think the merciful and just thing to do is fine her for the laws broken, allow her to complete her degree then require her to complete a work visa if she wants to stay.

and Tom, I already said I thought it was unfair of a Cobb County police officer to target me as I was coming out of my emmissions test on my way to the DMV. But he had me legally – so I paid the fine. I would expect Jessica (as I would myself or any of my children) to do the same.

Tom Middleton

May 14th, 2010
3:57 pm

You asked

Gotta run to the vet, Asked. But if you want to still post to me, I’ll be back later…

You give me a BREAK

May 14th, 2010
3:57 pm

GimmeABreakAlready
May 14th, 2010
3:50 pm
I think there should be a checklist for obtaining citizenship:
1. Proof of financial stability and enough funds to support themselves/family for 6 months
2. English speaking
3. No prior criminal record

Why don’t we use this as a measure to expel people from this country!?!?! This would solve our traffic and overcrowding issues.

Who's law !

May 14th, 2010
3:58 pm

By American law, she is an undocumented illegal resident. By American law, she must be deported. However, I believe in the law of GOD which says we are all children of GOD. Therefore, we are all children of the universe, which has no borders or limitations! Nevertheless, this issue brings to light important points which need to be discussed in this nation. Let’s hope the best outcome results from all involved.

Another point.
How many Americans citizens refuse to return their census reports because they believe it is an invasion of their privacy? I guess they would be considered UNDOCUMENTED Americans. Should we ship them back from where their descendants came from too! Mind you, these are AMERICAN CITIZENS who refuse to perform their civic duty. Pleeeeeeease, most Americans refuse to vote unless they feel they will lose something out the deal.

You Asked

May 14th, 2010
3:59 pm

J.C. “Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” – Romans 12:13

You probably know this already as my Lord and Savior, but do you remember me teaching immigrant workers english in the back of the store in Canton? Or how about the mother that I drove home after she was caught driving without a lisense. I spent the next day finding a good immigration lawyer for her that would work probono to help her get legal. Then there were the children of illegals in my church youth group. I insisted on including them in activities and finding some former missionaries who spoke Spanish to translate for me so they would be comfotable.

Thanks for blessing me with those opportunities.

You Asked

May 14th, 2010
4:03 pm

You give me a break said: “I think there should be a checklist for obtaining citizenship:
1. Proof of financial stability and enough funds to support themselves/family for 6 months
2. English speaking
3. No prior criminal record”
- – -
Strangely enough that is similar to some of the requirements for a US student to study in Mexico. They have to prove they are financially indpendent or have their parents provide an affadivit they will provide at least $300 per month in living expenses for the duration of the students stay.

The student must complete a visa application that includes a great deal of personal and legal information.

Bearcat

May 14th, 2010
4:04 pm

Re: YOU ASKED 3:37 PM. Just where did you get the idea that Jessica had a VISA to be in this country??

You Asked

May 14th, 2010
4:05 pm

Accusing people of being “unChristian” because they disagree with you really lacks in Christian charity. I’m just sayin’

You Asked

May 14th, 2010
4:06 pm

The AJC reported yesterday that she had a visa but it expired in 2007. If that was incorrect or updated I didn’t see it. Sorry.

Christine Koelewijn

May 14th, 2010
4:06 pm

What about Illegal don’t you people understand? My husband from the Netherlands went through the LEGAL , and expensive hoops to come to America in 1995. And according to the INS when Bill Clinton was in office he signed the NAFTA agreement this bill also allows Mexican and Canadians much smaller Hoops and much less expensive Hoops to go through to come to America. So all you feel warm and fuzzy people who think this is know big deal why don’t you people start a program called Adopt an Illegal. And you become responsible for all the Illegal people who want to come here. You can pay for all their fees that come with this PRIVELIGE, also according to the INS all men 28 and under must join our Military Services and let’s see how many are willing to do this for my country.What a joke . I feel like i’m being punked by our Law maker’s. If people are ok with people stepping on our law’s then you can also Adopt an ILLEGAL.

J.C.

May 14th, 2010
4:07 pm

“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another, saying, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17 But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” 18 So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened.” Acts 4:13-21

You Asked

May 14th, 2010
4:08 pm

I can’t find the reference to the expired visa today. I must have been mistaken. Sorry about that.

GimmeABreakAlready

May 14th, 2010
4:09 pm

@Some People are stupid – “You do realize English isn’t our official language.”
“English is the de facto national language of the United States, with 82% of the population claiming it as a mother tongue, and some 96% claiming to speak it “well” or “very well”. However, no official language exists at the Federal level.”

I am very proud of your research skills young grasshopper. If we could rid ourselves of the ACLU – English could become the official language of the United States. Instead, we dance around “sensitive” issues and protect people in the name of political correctness which is out of control.

@You give me a BREAK – “Why don’t we use this as a measure to expel people from this country!?!?! This would solve our traffic and overcrowding issues.:

I never looked at it that way….you make a very good point :)

J.C.

May 14th, 2010
4:10 pm

“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.” -Ephesians 2:19-21

J.C.

May 14th, 2010
4:10 pm

“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.” -Ephesians 2:19-21