EXCLUSIVE: Former Kennesaw student stripped of protection from deportation

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EXCLUSIVE: Former Kennesaw student stripped of protection from deportation

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David Barnes/DAVID BARNES / SPECIAL
May 10, 2017, Norcross - Jessica Colotl during an interview with a reporter in Norcross, Georgia, on Wednesday, May 10, 2017. (DAVID BARNES / DAVID.BARNES@AJC.COM)

Federal authorities have stripped a former Kennesaw State University student of her temporary protection from deportation, setting the stage for her possible expulsion.

Jessica Colotl’s arrest and near-deportation for a traffic violation in 2010 sparked a controversy about unauthorized immigrants attending public colleges in Georgia and beyond.

A Cobb County judge would go on to dismiss the criminal case stemming from the traffic charge. But officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs and Enforcement on Wednesday said that she admitted guilt in the case.

“Jessica Colotl, an unlawfully present Mexican national, admitted guilt to a felony charge in 2011 of making a false statement to law enforcement in Cobb County,” ICE spokesman Bryan Cox said in a statement.

Cox said she was allowed to enter a diversionary program by local authorities.

“However, under federal law her guilty plea is considered a felony conviction for immigration purposes,” he said.

Colotl is challenging the action in federal court.

Her attorney, Charles Kuck, called the federal government’s move “legally incorrect.” 

“It is not a conviction for federal immigration purposes,” Kuck said.

Jessica Colotl talks immigration reform

President Donald Trump campaigned on a promise to crack down on illegal immigration and cancel the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. Created by the Obama administration, DACA grants work permits and temporary protection from deportation to immigrants who were brought here as children. Since taking office, Trump has softened his language on that program. But the decision to strip Colotl of DACA raises question about how the Trump administration will handle the issue.

Colotl lives in Norcross and had previously worked as a paralegal.

“It is completely outrageous,” Colotl told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “On Monday when I first found out about this, I felt shock because I didn’t know this could potentially happen.” 

“It’s just amazing how I was able to renew my DACA application without any problems during the Obama administration. And under this administration my DACA status is being terminated, although the administration had mentioned… they were not going after Dreamers.”

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