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

Senor Sanchez

May 17th, 2010
7:28 am

Hello? Article on teens not able to find jobs next to an article about an ILLEGAL immigrant. See a connection? Oh, an illegal who is driving without a license and getting in state tuition when KSU’s policy is that illegals pay out of state tuition. Some policy huh?
She wants to be a lawyer. Just what we need, another lawyer who is flaunts the law. And to all her classmates who want her to stay, wait till you’re out of college and looking for a job, then you will understand. Illegals do the jobs nobody wants?? Baloney, they do the jobs for less than we would otherwise have to pay. 15 million folks out of work and approximately the same number of illegals. If Iran was on our border instead of Mexico the tune would change and you would not hear a peep from the Catholic Church.


May 17th, 2010
7:47 am

To the rev al. you are the best friend of getting rid of your kind. You preach that some white person is going to do something bad to you,, so you had better do it first. You are the biggest racist person in this state. You blame everything that happpenss to a non white on the opression that was caused years ago on some blacks. What you do not preach is the do what is right abd do not break the law. The laws of this country has not got a color of skin attached to them. It says if you break the law, you do the time. Nothing about race there. If that girl broke the law, she should pay the piper for her crimes. I do not see you going to Mexico fighting for american rights when someone goes to jail over there for the same offence. Get off your soap box and go out there and preach to your crowd to not break the laws and get off the corners selling drugs and go to work helping someone. Take care of the crimes your people do and do not wory about the law breakers from other countries, let our laws take care of them. You oppress yor people everytime you open your mouth, you tell them that they deserver to recieve something for nothing and if they do get it, take it. Deport the lawbreaker and make sure she can never take the barr exame in this country.

Cynthia is Sexy!!

May 17th, 2010
8:55 am

Buy here a one way ticket to Tijuana.

Vince Calhoun

May 17th, 2010
10:43 am

“What is the argument here? every single alien “BROKE THE LAW!” Our Government, Republican & Democrat, have allowed the invasion of 30 million criminals and is the largest invasion of any Nation, in direct violation of Article IV, Section IV of our Constitution.

This refusal to abide by our Constitution should be classified as Treason as grounds for impeachment & trials for Treason!

Not only have they allowed the invasion, they force American tax payers to pay Billions of dollars to provide Welfare, Prison, Educate the invaders children,free medical care, at the same time the invading horde break numerous laws, massive document fraud, & are destroying our schools, hospitals, communities, culture and standard of living while Robbing, Raping, Killing & Assaulting American Citizens WAKE UP PEOPLE! They walked,rode,swam and drove over here, they can do the same going home! taking thier anchor babies with them! ” Quote servo 05172010

Jamal S

May 17th, 2010
11:36 am

the racist sheriff in cobb county needs to be fired. He hates hispanics and is just using all this to get publicity for his reelection campaign. The voters will not put up with him much longer.


May 17th, 2010
11:45 am

Dear Cynthia Tucker,

THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH RACE,. Stop trying to make everything under the sun racially motivated.

This is about LEGAL and ILLEGAL.

Rob T.

May 17th, 2010
2:30 pm

You forgot to mention that she was arrested because she was driving without a license and then arrested again because she put the wrong address on the paperwork which (lying to a law enforcement officer) is a felony. It’s not like she’s a victim of racial profiling. She broke the law. Twice.

No More Incumbents

May 17th, 2010
2:40 pm

Sadly every deception she made was INTENTIONAL. She intentionally drove a car without a license. She intentionally drove a car with false registration information. She intentionally provided a false address to the police. She intentionally registered as an in-state student. She intentionally paid in-state student fees knowing her fellow illegal students were paying out of state tuition.
We will never know which deserving potential student lost out on a chance for an education at this school because of Jessica .

Creamy Snack, Crack, and Pop

May 17th, 2010
2:49 pm

Hey, Creamy Jack Crack:

You make a good point. But what if we replace “she” with “he” in all of your questions. I wonder, how would people respond to that scenario? Somehow, I think there would be a more harsh reaction.

Creamy Snack, Crack, and Pop

May 17th, 2010
2:52 pm

Better yet, lets make the he, a young Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Boy, talk about people going ballistic. Need I say more.

michelle moriarty

May 17th, 2010
4:02 pm

I wonder if this Columnist, Cynthia Tucker ever had to hold a working class job. I’m guessing no, she doesn’t know what she is talking about, about how we have to grant amnesty to 12 million illegal immigrants, and we should not only give away our few jobs, but we should also give them our childrens seats at taxpayer funded colleges. Pull your head out Cynthia.

Michelle A. Munoz

May 17th, 2010
4:22 pm

I’m so tired of you people saying one thing and meaning another!!!! Ms. Tucker has a valid point–many of you have come out and said “They need to learn English and acclamate themselves to our society”. Now we have this young girl raised in this country since she was a small child who aspires to have a career as an attorney willing to work and pay for her education–even though she did receive some scholarship money on her own merits–but that’s not good enough for you. No she’s still an ILLEGAL and that’s all that matters. Not a drug dealing gang banging murder but just a young girl of the HISPANIC RACE.

As for breaking the law by driving without a license…l unfortunately know more than 10 people who are currently US citizens, residents of Georgia, driving without a license because they don’t want to pay their tickets or can’t get insurance and I’m sure you all know someone like that too!!!!!

Michelle A. Munoz

May 17th, 2010
4:26 pm

Oh and one more thing……how come Cobb County can afford to waste TAXPAYER funds on arresting this young lady again which means additional court costs again paid by the TAXPAYER funds when the Cobb County School System is having to close schools and cut teachers and staff. ICE is not going to deport her no matter what you do because she is not an immediate threat to Homeland Security.


May 17th, 2010
4:54 pm

Race race race… Nice use of the Alinsky rulebook.

She is accused of a FELONY. Hello? Bueller?


May 17th, 2010
6:41 pm

A country she barely knows? How did she get a Mexican driver license if she has not been back there quite frequently and have an address where it is mailed to? Liberals are such liars.


May 17th, 2010
8:01 pm

This girl didn’t jump the border as an adult–she came because her parents took her to the United States. Do you really think she had a choice in the matter? Do you think she even really understood at the time what happened?

Have you ever been to Mexico, Lionshoter? I was a student there and I actually had a problem with my (legal) visa that rendered me “illegal” for a short period of time. It was my fault. Did I end up in jail? No. Mexican authorities allowed me to stay in Mexico until my immigration was settled and cleared up. I’m from the Midwest (US), by the way, with no Mexican heritage or family.

I know of Americans who have lied to Mexican authorities about their visa status because they wanted to retire without the hassle. I know Americans who “lost” their entry/exit papers, and all Mexican immi did at the airport was give them a fine (that was seriously around $30) and send them on their way. In fact, there’s entire “American” towns filled with American retirees who don’t speak Spanish, who work without papers and who refuse to acknowledge Mexican culture.

Why are we being so evil? All of you are going to forget this even happened a month from now, but this decision will have a profound (positive or negative)impact on Jessica FOR THE REST OF HER LIFE.


May 17th, 2010
8:27 pm

@Michelle A Munoz>Taxpayers don’t mind paying for things that are necessary and one of those things we don’t mind paying for is prosecuting in the courts someone who flaunts the laws of this country and drives without a license and undoubtedly without insurance as well and then compounding those with a felony of lying about her address.YEAH!SHE WILL MAKE A GREAT ATTORNEY!Hey,did you hear the one about the bus full of lawyers that went over a cliff and everyone on board ?Yeah it was a shame too cause there was an empty seat!!!Of course,when you need one,you might as well get one that knows all the laws cause they broke them all>Actually,if convicted she will then be a felon making it impossible for her to become a lawyer>Unless she lies about that too!!!


May 17th, 2010
11:18 pm

Thank you, Cynthia, for the courage to take a stand in the middle of this lunatic fringe.

I hope one day we will have just laws that don’t force so many to hide in the shadows, unable to ask police or others for help.

Ev Howe

May 17th, 2010
11:35 pm

Thank-you Cynthia for another great column about immigration and hate. Just read the responses to you editorial, pure prejudice, how sad. Jessica is the product of 8 years of working hard to excel in Georgia schools, of her mom paying rent thus paying as much for her education as the US citizen paying rent next door, most of secondary school costs are paid with property taxes. When you pay rent, you pay property taxes. We all have an investment in Jessica, keep compassion and love thy neighbor, we should not deport her ever, provide a path to citizenship by academic excellence and/or military service, like the DREAM Act provides. Love thy neighbor as god has love you!


May 18th, 2010
3:50 am

WAKE UP CYNTHIA……..after I have read your article about Jessica Colotl, I don’t see any valid points in your argument/opinion; just like majority of the readers looking at it the same way……..that she should be DEPORTED !!!! NO DOUBT ABOUT IT !


May 18th, 2010
7:37 am

The rednecks, minority haters in cobb county are at it again—just like back in the 90s with the olympics—-they never learn up there. Keep on hating people who aren’t white!!!!!!


May 18th, 2010
9:07 am

Cynthia I have an idea. Read the bill and then you can decide if you’re against it or not. It’s embarassing for the president that his AG has threatened a lawsuit over the AZ law when he’s admitted he hasn’t read it or even fully understands it. Holder is gone by the end of the year. Too many gaffes.

David Messner

May 18th, 2010
9:34 am

God bless you, Ms. Tucker, for writing this column. I agree completely with what you wrote. Those unable to understand and share what we have been given in this country miss so much in terms of the rewards of generosity.


May 18th, 2010
1:09 pm

David, being immigrant myself who came in student Visa, what makes you think that rules only apply to people who come here in paper work? If she is getting free pass, because she is in college, it don’t make sense to the international student who come here with series of paper work and interview in the Embassy. I think people who support Jessica are the one who have no idea the rules that apply to international student. If international student are the one to violate rules, by working out campus without work permit, taking less than 12 credits per semester and not maintaining good GPA, the same University will inform the INS and terminate the student visa. How was she able to pay in state tuition fees?
If people want to reward, reward the people who come here in paper work, those people are also hard working like illegal immigrants. At least we follow rules are regulations.
People who try to divert into race are racist. I think these people might think it is easy to go around the world without visa, next time when you go around the world, and if people ask for your ID and Visa, scream for racism.
It is clearly a double standard. There are millions of people around the world who wants to come here to make bright future, it is not only Mexicans, are you going to make the air free for those people? They are also hard working people.
People who go to history saying this country is made of immigrants are foolish. In the back when there were no laws, people moved from one place to another place easily because there were no rules. Now in this modern world, time have changed, every country have immigration rules. At least this country is extremely easy for illegal immigrants. If it was Australia, Japan or any European country they will deport.

LA screenwriter

May 18th, 2010
4:09 pm

Once again, Cynthia Tucker does her best to create an illusion. She shouldn’t be writing commentary pieces, she should be writing FANTASY FICTION books since that’s what she excels at. I love that she writes (quote): “Following a routine traffic stop on campus in late March, Colotl was arrested”, but FAILS to mention that she was stopped for driving without a license. Gee, how many of you would like to be could in an accident with an illegal carrying no license? She also FAILS to mention that Colotl was ultimately taken into custody for LYING to the police and for PURPOSEFULLY giving misleading statements, to throw them off.

I also love Tucker’s assertion that we’re failing to see Colotl’s future potential in our society. Well, given that her big dream was to be a lawyer — and given that we currently have in the United States approximately 1 lawyer/person with a law degree for every 200 people — I highly doubt she was going to be THAT productive. Frankly, we’re a little overstocked on lawyers right now.

Of course, that does bring up the most LAUGHABLE thing about Tucker’s article, and her desperate need to look the other way in order to promote her political beliefs. Tell me, Ms. Tucker, just WHY would we celebrate Ms. Colotl and her “dream” to be a lawyer? Gee, that’s just what America needs. We need more lawyers who think they are ABOVE the laws of the land and don’t have to actually obey them.


May 18th, 2010
6:10 pm

@Sandy and LA Screenwriter: I applaud both of you!


May 19th, 2010
12:28 am

“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 wertrivers and achievers……”

The article author forgot the most important thing we seek of legal immigrants: Good Moral Character. Try to get a copy of a citizenship application. You will find out that Ms. Coltil is far from what we seek of immigrants.

We let go of a lot of PhDs and scientists because they cannot get greencards in a timely manner (they came here legally) or they have left voluntarily not wanting to violate any American Law. So don’t even think that since she will get a college degree, that she speaks english,thats more than enough to legalize her. Nope. She has to go through the legal channel as how many great immigrants in the past and current have gone through, do physical/medical/vaccinations, pass background and criminal checks, not a public burden, etc ..and demonstrate GOOD MORAL CHARACTER (she flunked this one big time!!)


May 19th, 2010
12:56 am

I was just reading the previous post of SANDY, an international student. I encourage everyone, including the article author, to read that post. That’s how international students struggle to come and legally stay here. In the case of Ms.Colotl who was brought here at age 11, did she ever make any effort to atleast adjust her status? Did she ever filed even a single immigration form or have brought her case before her school’s international office?

BTW, everyone seems to suggest an outstanding student being deported. What’s her record on community service, GPA, etc ? I am asking because these are usual arguments in immigration cases. Lastly, please dont even think this is a RACE issue, I am also an immigrant.

Tim Perren

May 19th, 2010
12:23 pm

What we need are more students like her that get into college the legal way. There are numerous students in our university system that are here on student visas that they actually had to go through a legal process to obtain. Do you think that is fair for them? I think not! I guess we should just open our borders to all people so that they don’t get offended when we say they have to obey the laws of our nation. We might as well.

Tim Perren

May 19th, 2010
12:28 pm

@ David. Just because other nations don’t have it as good as we do doesn’t mean we should ignore law. Right on, Sandy!

I read obama care & the imagration bill

May 20th, 2010
7:34 am

why did you block me out of all of your baited issues?


May 20th, 2010
10:30 am

I am a Mexican-American that is in complete disagreement with illegal immigration. I am a single mother, a full time employee, and a full time student. I get NOTHING from the government! When I say NOTHING, I mean NOT A DAMN THING from the government. I think it is totally wrong that this girl was allowed to stay at KSU, and me being legal, I had to jump through hoops just to get a grant to go to college. Why should she be any different or special? She’s illegal POINT BLANK…END OF DISCUSSION! All that crap being said that she was brought here by her parents… that’s a bunch of bs. You are 21 yrs of age, When you turned 18, you should’ve turned around and went back to Mexico! Please save all your BS for someone else… To KSU: Very sad you let these people have the same benefits as us CITIZENS.

James B.

May 20th, 2010
11:16 am

The LAST thing our country needs are people like this woman. Period. Beyond what I think personally, it is a slap in the face to ANYONE who came here legally and jumped through hoops to become an American citizen. Hate to break this to you, Ms. Tucker, but wanting to be an American citizen doesn’t count for anything when you’re willing to lie, cheat and steal your way across America. If you want to blame ANYONE, then blame her parents and the miserable third world country they left, because that is where the blame begins. Then I blame corporations for wanting cheap labor, and I blame racists like you for wanting ignorant votes. The whole world knows you hate the current demographics of America, Ms. Tucker; good luck in changing them! :)


May 20th, 2010
12:09 pm



The U.S would not be what it is now without immigrants!!!



May 20th, 2010
1:03 pm

LIA: Check your facts, nobody is saying the U.S. is for whites only. True we are a nation of immigrants, of LEGAL IMMIGRANTS (myself included). They came through the Elis Island and other ports-of-entry.
[ Now don't bring on that Native Indian thing.. or I'll bring on land bridges migration, Noah's descendants or Tower Of Babel immigrants... just kidding!!! :-]


May 20th, 2010
8:07 pm

So, according to your article, if I have “potential” I can ignore any laws I choose because they are inconvenient and therefore shouldn’t apply to me?

In the country illegally, okay, not her fault…but still here illegally.

No drivers license…now that would get me sent to jail and I was born here…why should she have rights and priveleges denied to me?

Lied to the police…again, that would have a warrant issued for my arrest, why should she be different?

When we start cherry picking what laws we will and will not enforce, what laws we will and will not obey; we are a lawless nation. We are travelling down a very slippery slope with this issue.

How do you justify ignoring the laws of this country? Who decides who does and does not have to obey them?

Joe Mikus

May 21st, 2010
10:22 am

Please read the official letter from KSU at KSU. She received most of her education there for FREE! No DL? She wants to be a lawyer? Look no further than Camden NJ I am a white male citizen and given the choice, I would prefer she pay back the stolen (thef by deception) money to help the LEGAL students of Camden.

Joe Mikus

May 21st, 2010
10:35 am

YOU REALLY HAVE TO READ THAT LETTER! Opinions are like A……S, everybody has one. PLEASE, PLEASE, read that letter and if you do maybe you will adjust your comments.


May 23rd, 2010
4:12 pm

This article lost all of its credibility when it stated “Arizona’s ugly immigration law — which, according to polls, is supported by a majority of Americans”. All the research I did indicates at least 61% of Americans praise Arizona’s new immigration law. That 61% of Americans includes Demarcates, Republicans and independents.

Jessica Colotl should be given a deferment equal to the amount of time it takes to serve the minimum sentence for each law she broke to remain in this country undetected for the past eleven years. After completing her prison requirements deportation would be next and she can go through the proper channels and return for completion of her education if immigration laws don’t prohibit a person with her criminal record to enter the country.


May 24th, 2010
11:39 am

I think this reporter is out of touch. My wife is a legal immigrant to this country and she is more outraged about illegal immigrants than I am. There is a legal path to come here, it’s a lot of trouble, costs time and money but if you don’t follow it then you are breaking the law. People are outraged about the lawlessness of the illegal immigrants who flaunt the system and thumb their noses at the USA our laws and customs, they are not outraged that people from other countries come here, just that so many do it illegally. They are also outraged that most of the illegal immigrants don’t want to blend into the melting pot that is our tradition but want our society to cater to their every whim and need in their own language. Georgia is doing everything right by turning illegal immigrants over to ICE for processing and the change to the law in Arizona allowing their law enforcement to help out ICE is also a step in the right direction. This young student came here illegally through no fault of her own. She apparently committed a minor traffic offense which got her stopped, she didn’t have a license since she knew she couldn’t do it legally. We are already up to three offenses before she lied about her address and then apparently she lied about her citizenship status to even be admitted to the school and she says she had hoped to become a lawyer? How would she have ever been able to take a bar exam as an illegal immigrant? The fraudulent enrollment in school is already enough to kick her out of the country, but she is a habitual liar and habitual law breaker. Send her back to Mexico and let her get her degree there.

Doesn't Add Up

June 1st, 2010
4:57 pm

As “one of the brighter and smarter” people we need to come to the USA. What is so smart and bright about:

1. Knowing and then staying in the USA illegally.
2. Giving false information, i.e. lied to the police.
3. Driving illegally.

Is this what we consider the best and brightest? Is this someone we want our children to look up to? What if while driving illegally, she had killed someone or maimed them with permanent disability?

Would we be saying the same thing? Just doesn’t add up to me.


June 2nd, 2010
12:32 pm

Have been searching on an update on this and can’t find anything.

So where any charges filed against her for driving without a license and being uninsured?

If that had happened to me, my butt would be in jail or at the very least having to pay a huge fine.

[...] Colotl story has been covered by CNN and Syndicated Columnist Cynthia Tucker. Why hasn’t Hota and Robin Ferschke’s story not gotten similar coverage? It can’t [...]

[...] becoming a big national story because it’s Harvard but we also see it locally with cases like Jessica Colotl. Notice how a racist educational institutions like Harvard and a racist media institution like the [...]

[...] stampede across our borders, as detractors claim. And The DREAM Act would free promising students like Jessica Colotl to focus on their studies: Jessica Colotl, 21, is a senior at Kennesaw State University, a political [...]