From CNN.com… Here’s how I would summarize it. Jessica Coloti is undocumented and entered the USA without proper permission as an 11-yr old. It was not “her fault” that she was brought here. She went through our public education system (I assume), is within one year of completing a college degree, but was stopped for a minor traffic violation and her lack of documents led to detention. She’s been told her deportation hearing won’t begin until next year so she can finish her degree.
The entire case is now politics: one groups know she is undocumented; she’s violated a law of not having a valid driver’s license; they want to follow up with deportation hearing. Another group points its fingers at the law for overstepping its limits.
What do you think should be done? What are her possibilities? Can she begin the process of applying for citizenship? Or is deportation about the only option? (This recognizing that this could become a big enough case to change the whole discussion.)
Colotl’s legal problems started in late March when her car was stopped on the Kennesaw State campus. Born in Mexico but living in the United States since she was 11, she could not produce a driver’s license, so she handed over as identification an expired passport from Mexico.
She was arrested the next day and turned over to immigration officials. She spent more than a month in the Etowah Detention Center in Alabama.
Friends came out in force and marched on campus in her defense. Earlier this month, she was released, and her deportation was deferred for a year, which will allow her to finish her studies. She hasn’t returned to classes yet, but looks forward to earning her degree.
“I’m just trying to live the American dream and finish my education,” she said.
Calling Colotl “a symbol of what’s wrong with the immigration system,” immigration attorney Charles Kuck thanked ICE for allowing his client to stay in the country for a year to finish her studies. He then set out to educate people about the challenges facing Colotl, providing a reason why she did not have a license.
“Jessica can’t start the process to become a U.S. citizen because she’s not allowed to,” he said. “If Jessica could obtain a license, she would have.”
In a statement Wednesday night, Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren said, “Ms. Colotl knew that she was in the United States without authority to be here and voluntarily chose to operate a vehicle without a driver’s license, which is a violation of Georgia law. She has further complicated her situation with her blatant disregard for Georgia law by giving false information.” …….
The Cobb Immigrant Alliance likened the actions of officials to “schoolyard bullying.” Gonzalez, of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, called the sheriff “Wild-West Warren,” saying he “has abused his authority in this case. His actions clearly demonstrate the problems that occur when local law officers are granted authority to enforce immigration laws.”
“Sheriff Warren has embarked on a witch hunt, wasting money and county resources for political gain,” said Adelina Nicholls of the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights. “This is not about public safety.”