A college student from Kennesaw State University could face deportation next year.
Jessica Colotl, a 21-year-old Mexican immigrant, was arrested in March for driving without a license.
On May 12, a Georgia sheriff filed a felony charge against Colotl for providing a false address to the police. Two days later, she surrendered to the sheriff but does not admit to any wrongdoing.
“I never thought that I’d be caught up in this messed-up system,” she said in a recent news conference. “I was treated like a criminal, like a threat to the nation.”
Latino civil rights groups, who say Colotl has excelled academically, are fighting to keep her in the U.S. They say she should be spared deportation because her parents had brought her to the U.S. without legal documentation. In addition, they say she was found to be here illegally only after a traffic violation.
Supporters of immigration laws disagree. The sheriff’s offices in Cobb County say she violated state law and misinformed the police about her address. They say she should not be treated differently because of her education or age.
Immigration laws are a hotbed issue this year. Arizona’s new immigration law, which gave state and local police broad powers to enforce immigration law, has sparked a national debate over whether federal immigration laws should be enforced by local and state officials.
Right now, Georgia is the center of the national debate. The case has become vastly political. Colotl, who was paying for in-state tuition, will now have to pay out-of-state tuition next year. Additionally, Republican politicians are demanding new legislation to make college attendance nearly impossible for illegal immigrants, forcing them to pay more in tuition.
Eric Johnson, a Republican candidate for governor, has said that if elected, he will make all college applicants show proof of their citizenship. The chancellor of the state university system said a mandate such as that would be expensive. It could cost the school roughly $1.5 million for about 300,000 students.