The Kennesaw State University student whose case ignited a bitter legislative debate about whether illegal immigrants should attend Georgia public colleges won a temporary reprieve from deportation.
Jessica Colotl can stay in the country one more year. Under current immigration laws, she doesn’t have many options to earn a legal right to remain in the United States, although she’s lived here since she was a young child.
The federal Dream Act, which would create a path to citizenship for students like Colotl who were brought to America as children, remains in political limbo.
Federal officials first granted Colotl a one-year deferment from deportation in 2010 so she could finish her degree in political science. She received a second deferment last May and it was just renewed again. She will apply for another reprieve next year, said Charles Kuck, her immigration attorney.
Colotl graduated last May and is currently working as a paralegal assistant for Kuck. She has a standing deportation order and cannot apply for legal permanent residency under current federal immigration law, Kuck has said. Her options include re-applying for the deferment or returning to Mexico for 10 years and then applying for a visa, he said.
Colotl’s parents brought her from Mexico to the U.S. when she was a child. A KSU police officer pulled her over for a traffic violation in March 2010 and she was arrested when she failed to produce a valid driver’s license. The publicity surrounding her arrest renewed heated arguments over whether illegal immigrants take seats in college away from those lawfully in the country.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog