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

Richard

May 14th, 2010
9:49 am

Kamchack: I don’t think she needs to respond to every single post (presumably she has a job to do), but it is pretty obvious that she reads these comments. Yet she only managed to respond once, and it was one of the few that agreed with her position. In an intellectual debate, it is more effective to counter an argument from the other side than to merely echo the comments of others on your side so why not pick out the best post from the other side of the argument and counter it? Hell if she does an effective job, I might even begin to see the light….

Felipe Calderón

May 14th, 2010
9:49 am

Libertarian, she will not work for a “real” law firm. She will work with a group of real lawyers on behalf of other illegals who are being discriminated against because they are not receiving their fair share of your pie. Maybe she can help other illegals stay permanently… maybe she can just tie things up long enough to be forgotten. Either way, she’ll be working for me and her fellow countrymen.

Scout

May 14th, 2010
9:49 am

I hope they are making gasoline out of all that oil they are “sopping up” !

Matt

May 14th, 2010
9:51 am

Once again, most of you are only in this country because your ancestors, many of whom were escaping economic and religious oppression. It’s time to revamp our convoluted immigration policy.

csquared

May 14th, 2010
9:51 am

@richard 9:14 “She has her talking points, then suddenly disappears when legitimate intellectual debate begins” you’ll have to excuse me if i missed the “legitimate intellectual debate” all Ive seen here are a bunch of rants, mainly aimed at excoriating a young woman who came here with her parents illegally. If holding her accountable for what her parents did is the way we’re going to apply our laws, then kids across the state of parents that have committed crimes, large and small, should be serving with them. But before you agree, that’s going to affect ALL criminals, not just those in the minority community.

Peter

May 14th, 2010
9:52 am

I appreciate this article Cynthia – as I have some mutual friends with Jessica, and by all accounts she represents one of our “best and brightest”. It’s our loss if we don’t figure out a way to attract and allow to stay here the talented and hardworking people that can make our society better. Who knows? – Maybe she or someone like her would be the person that finds a cure for cancer or invents the next amazing technology?

Kamchak

May 14th, 2010
9:53 am

…why not pick out the best post from the other side of the argument and counter it?

Again—-maybe, just maybe, she’s just not that into you.

kayaker 71

May 14th, 2010
9:54 am

Granny,

Why do you think that all of our spinless politicians won’t have an immigration bill this year? Losing the latino vote in November might be at the top of the list and suffering the indignation of voters like the dissatisfied posters on this blog. Makes little difference what party is involved. But you cannot convince me that Bozo would voluntarily submit to suggestions from anyone but his chosen few. Hasn’t happened so far. Why do you think it would happen now? You are living in a fantasy world. I also accept the bet. I like Bones. They have one of the best sirloin strips in town and a pretty fair wine list. Add some aspargus with creme sauce, a loaded baked potato and rasberrys for desert showered with Grand Marnier. Then we’ll have a good cup of coffee and celebrate the neutering of Bozo. Sound like fun?

Billy T.

May 14th, 2010
9:55 am

Dear csquared,

Nice try at twisting the facts. If the parents rob banks and the kid is driving a new car as a result of the loot from the bank…when the parents are caught … the kid’s new car is seized. The kid does not get to keep the car merely because the child was not the one robbing the banks.

BKM

May 14th, 2010
9:55 am

She is not here legally. End of the story. She lied to the cops. I don’t know why people try to glamourise situations like this. She is breaking the law.

DMac

May 14th, 2010
9:56 am

Miss Tucker, What is xenophobic about enforcing the law? She is in this country illegally, she broke state traffic law (driving without a license) and she lied to both the university and to law enforcement officials. She is a lawbreaker, plain and simple and is in this country illegally. DEPORT HER!!!

mit

May 14th, 2010
9:56 am

i thought it would crazy to agree with scout or peadawg on anything but….i prolly won’t be as harsh.
She lied on her college application if she received in-state tuition. she should have to pay back tuition. I paid out-of -state when I moved b/c I didn’t lie on my application. She lied to police if she gave a false address. felony end of story. there are plenty of smart foreigners at GSU but they have student visas. exactly how is that fair for an illegal immigrant to get in-state while all the rest do it correctly. i am no hard-liner as scout and peadawg know but cynthia is wrong on this one.

HDB

May 14th, 2010
9:57 am

Chris

May 14th, 2010
8:51 am
Rev @ 8:47

‘Screw an unjust law’

That’s not how this country works. You follow the laws or you get them changed. We don’t get to pick and choose what laws we follow just because we don’t think they are good or we don’t like them.

Excuse me….but wasn’t it civil DISOBEDIENCE that made certain laws change so that ethnic minorities could FINALLY get full Constitutional protection?? At times, there is a moral imperative to break the law so that it CAN be changed!! In its current state, the law does not address those undocumenteds that are caught in limbo!! What needs to be addressed here is how to codify that status so that those who HAVE no criminal record and have attempted to assimilate into society can be considered for resident status. Remember: Ronald Reagan gave the preponderance of these undocumenteds amnesty….and GWB was prepared to do likewise!!

Obama

May 14th, 2010
9:57 am

No fear.
I need all of the illegals to keep me in office.
BTY, I walk on water.

Kung

May 14th, 2010
9:57 am

Thank you Cynthia, for having the courage to say the obvious. We need immigration reform so that students like Jessica can become American citizens. My parents came to this country from China in 1948, when immigration reform opened up a pathway for them to become citizens. Once that reform was passed, it took them 4 years to become citizens. My extended family also immigrated to the U.S. and have, over the last 50 years, “produced” 3 engineers, 2 doctors, 2 teachers, 3 architects,and 8 small business owners. Our family, collectively, have helped to grow the American economy and – to Cynthia’s point – have diversified this nation in a way that some find deeply uncomfortable.Today, at the present quota levels and without reform, it would take someone like Jessica 148 years to become a citizen. We want people like Jessica – and the thousands and thousands of other immigrants who are currently out of status – to have a pathway to citizenship the way my parents did. When I head people saying “immigration reform now,” that’s what I understand them to be saying: it’s time again to open up a pathway to citizenship to people like Jessica.

A Lumpkin Resident

May 14th, 2010
9:57 am

Ragnar wrote this: “The presence of college students adds nothing to the nation’s weal, as they are consumers and not producers. Almost all college students are subsidized by taxpayers or parents or both, thus they divert precious capital into non-productive uses. 75% of college students study worthless courses, as if we need another history or psychology major”

I wouldn’t go that far. Ultimately, college students present a net increase in taxes over the course of their lifetimes. Here’s the thing: There are literally MILLIONS of brilliant students who would gladly LEGALLY pay their way. NPR ran a story yesterday where 400,000 students competed for 8000 University slots in India. I can virtually guarantee that 100,000 of those students are more brilliant that Ms Colotl and would be glad to be here legally going to KSU. A illegal political science major who wants to go to law school is that last thing we need.

Tommy Maddox

May 14th, 2010
9:57 am

Illegal = Illegal.

Lying to law enforcement only compounds her predicament.

Scout

May 14th, 2010
9:58 am

mit:

What I want to know is did “Che” Obama lie at Columbia University by receiving foreign student loans as Barry Soweto?

John

May 14th, 2010
9:58 am

I’m sure most of the angry people are just upset to see a young Hispanic kid doing better than their own lazy children, or themselves for that matter. Especially being that she didn’t step on our soil until 10 years of age.

Richard

May 14th, 2010
9:59 am

csquared: My fault…I did not read the part of the post that it was her parents who drove without a license, lied on her college application, and gave the police a false address (which I believe is a felony…not sure though). I forgot that if you are on the enforce the laws side of the debate, you are just ranting! However if I come over to Cynthia’s side of the debate, then I must be enlightened!

Mallory

May 14th, 2010
10:00 am

Ms. Tucker, since you lean left, it’s no wonder you would welcome a law student who began her journey into law, illegally. Do you ever think before you write? It’s obvious you don’t.

The AJC is reporting that the sheriff’s office was tipped off about Ms. Colotl’s false address by a member of the media. Is that true? Did that media member hail from the AJC? The article said it was an AJC staffer who visited the rental office.

JoePa

May 14th, 2010
10:01 am

This is disturbing on so many levels … If an American citizen from Colorado wanted to attend KSU, they would rightfully be charged the full tuition (in-state tuition is a taxpayer SUBSIDY, people!). But if someone brings their kids across the US border illegally and learns how to game the system, they not only get a free K-12 education, but a taxpayer-subsidized college degree. WOW! Tell me where else in the world THAT would happen! Meanwhile, a LEGAL immigrant on a Visa from Korea would have to pay the full freight. It’s not about “RACISM,” or “HATE” — it’s about enforcing the immigration laws that every other country is allowed to have in place without criticism. Oh, and we DO want the best and brightest to come here for college, Cynthia — that’s why we have a Visa system for them to do so legally! We’re coming to the point where our government is more concerned about the rights of illegals than those of its own citizens. We can’t survive this much longer …

mit

May 14th, 2010
10:01 am

if she gets a pass on this then you must let every prisoner out. if its illegal for me to do, then it should be illegal for her too. she is not a violent criminal so she shouldn’t be deported i don’t think but she must be recognized as a Mexican get a student visa and pay back tuition for out-of-state. And to top it off, she wants to be lawyer? She is good at lying, so she might be a pretty good one.

Mike O.

May 14th, 2010
10:01 am

Ok, reading alot of the comments for letting her stay because she’s graduated HS and about to graduate college and wants to be a lawyer. So this is a beauty contest and we only choose the illegals that you feel will be a benefit and send all the others back? Now that strikes me as being racist. Harkins back to the days of slavery when the slave owner only bought and kept the strongest slaves to tend his fields.

Logic 88

May 14th, 2010
10:01 am

For all of you deadbeats that want to welcome this illegal into the USA….why don’t you try the same logic and see if any other countries welcome you to stay in their country.

Felipe Calderón

May 14th, 2010
10:03 am

Argue more furiously my friends, you are playing right into my hands.

Meme

May 14th, 2010
10:03 am

Illegal, lying students? I think we already have enough of those. Send her to Mexico.

Rich

May 14th, 2010
10:04 am

I want to be able to commit crimes without fear of prosecution, but I am here legally.

Richard

May 14th, 2010
10:05 am

Kamchak: Usually when I am around someone and they don’t understand the point I’m trying to get across, I will either say it more slowly or put it into different words but I don’t really know how to do so over the computer. Nowhere in my original post or reply to your post did I claim to have the best counter-argument to her stance on this issue….I simply want her to select one that she deems to be most effective, logical argument, then counter it with a comment. I only ask that she do this one time. Are we on the same page now?

John

May 14th, 2010
10:05 am

Logic 88, this is the greatest country on earth. I don’t want to go to another country. Why do you think everyone wants to come here? You should be proud of that.
Also, what have you ever contributed to make this country great? Name one thing.
And don’t say that you’ve paid your taxes, because that’s what your supposed to do.

mit

May 14th, 2010
10:05 am

scout, i have no idea what you’re talking about. che obama?

Granny Godzilla

May 14th, 2010
10:06 am

kayaker 71

so the answer is yes? you think the GOP is afraid of the topic?

so all this bitchin’ is just lip service.

if you win bones it is….but what I can do with the help of Grillmaster G (and my terribly sexy butcher) is much better than Bones or Ruths Chris or Aspens ….. we do a white chocolate raspberry mousse – yum-a-roo.

resno2

May 14th, 2010
10:06 am

I’m not reading through all 218 posts to see if this has been asked/answered already, but for those who think she should stay (on the taxpayers dime) and finish her studies, why? And don’t say because she’s a nice person, and she’s come so far. What are the concrete legal reasons? Why should those reasons apply to her, and those in similar situations, and not others?

Scout

May 14th, 2010
10:06 am

mit:

Your president.

HDB

May 14th, 2010
10:07 am

News: She has turned herself in….will make bail….and note this: (from the AJC)

“It is obvious from all the documents that I’ve seen that she has done nothing wrong and has given her proper address to Cobb County and immigration officials,” Taylor said. “There has been no crime committed. Jessica looks forward to defending herself against these false and baseless charges.”

Granny Godzilla

May 14th, 2010
10:08 am

Kayaker 71

asparagus? bechemel or hollandaise?

Sarah H

May 14th, 2010
10:08 am

I hope all the illegals rally. The INS can just step in and send bunches of them home.

Mike O.

May 14th, 2010
10:08 am

@ John:And don’t say that you’ve paid your taxes, because that’s what your supposed to do.
Cause thats the LAW right?

Felipe Calderón

May 14th, 2010
10:09 am

Mike O. you will need to learn to speak spanish first. No reason for my people to learn english.

J Kase

May 14th, 2010
10:09 am

Heck, she only violated a bunch of silly little laws. What’s the harm in that? Breaking silly little laws is ok until your the victim of one of them.

mit

May 14th, 2010
10:09 am

scout, you mean ‘our’ president. and i still don’t know what you are talking about. i didn’t see or hear his speech at columbia and don’t care. arnold was at emory and he told them to ‘break some rules’ hahaha.

John

May 14th, 2010
10:11 am

I can’t wait till the new census numbers come out, all of your heads will explode in 3, 2, 1…lol

Mike O.

May 14th, 2010
10:12 am

Hola Felipe, ¿puedes enviar a alguien para cuidar de mi jardín?

Chris

May 14th, 2010
10:13 am

There is nothing racist nor xenophobic about the prosecution of this lady. She broke the law – period. What the liberal/selfish special interest groups are trying to pull off is just plain wrong.

This lady has no respect for the law – she lied to so many people about her status that she has no moral character. She is a thief – claiming in-state status when she was not an American citizen and stealing our tax money to subsidize her education. She probably broke the KSU Honor Code with her lies.

Her race means nothing in this case, any attempt to characterize this as a race issue is simply a pathetic attempt to escape responsibility and to encourage “me first” behaviors.

And she wants to be a lawyer………..ha

Felipe Calderón

May 14th, 2010
10:14 am

Hola Mike O., mi amigo! Sí, mañana por la mañana en 8:00am.

Scout

May 14th, 2010
10:15 am

mit:

I know you libs. don’t care and that’s the problem.

Take care ……… outta here for awile.

Mike O.

May 14th, 2010
10:17 am

But, Chris, if they don’t make it about race how will it ever make it onto FOX News and CNN and even here? For shame for any of us to think it’s really about the LAW, good bad or other wise. We just don’t get it or understand so we all must be racists because we think “Everyone” is supposed to folow the law

oh brother where art thou?

May 14th, 2010
10:18 am

everybody knows we are supposed to pay taxes for government that does nothing to enforce their immigration laws. the lack of enforcement results in illegal behavior, which we are also supposed to support.

Mike O.

May 14th, 2010
10:19 am

Gracias Felipe, dar lo mejor de mi a Jessica y su familia.

Cynthia is Sexy!!

May 14th, 2010
10:19 am

I hope very soon they have her back in Mexico, where she belongs.