ATLANTA – A rally was held Saturday in support of an illegal immigrant who allegedly has been targeted for deportation.
But the target of the rally's support didn't attend because she was reportedly fearful of actually being deported.
The rally, which ran from 10 am to noon in front of the Richard B. Russell Federal Building, was in support of Jessica Colotl, a former Kennesaw State University student who has been told she’s lost her protected immigration status.
Several organizations are rallying to support Colotl, including the ACLU of Georgia; Asian Americans Advancing Justice; Black Lives Matter Greater Atlanta; the Georgia Alliance for Social Justice; Georgia NAACP; and St. Mark UMC.
However, organizers told 11Alive that Colotl chose not to attend the event.
In 2012, Colotol was granted temporary status to stay in the United States under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which offered protection to immigrants brought here as children, as Colotl was.
For the last five years, the KSU grad has been a tax-paying paralegal. But before she was granted that temporary status, Colotl was arrested in 2010 after a traffic stop. She was threatened with deportation, which made national headlines in the battle over undocumented immigrants in public universities.
After the incident, Colotl completed community service, which her attorney Charles Kuck said left her with a clean record. However, federal officials said they consider it a plea deal, which they said make her a felon.
According to Colotl and her attorney, she was flagged by authorities when she went to renew her DACA status, which was good until May 18. Because of the old charge that's been on her record for six years, Colotl's DACA was terminated by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on May 3 and her status has now been jeopardized.
"There's no reason it (her DACA) wouldn't have been approved," Kuck said. "The extension was approved last time. The law, the rules on DACA have not changed. What a conviction is hasn’t changed. How they’re interpreting the law has changed."
However, the Immigration and Enforcement Agency, which enforces immigration laws, said nothing has changed in their interpretation.
In a statement from ICE's southern region spokesman Bryan Cox, the agency said: "Jessica Colotl, an unlawfully present Mexican national, admitted guilt to a felony charge in August 2011 of making a false statement to law enforcement in Cobb County, Ga. Ms. Colotl was subsequently allowed to enter a diversionary program by local authorities; however, under federal law her guilty plea is considered a felony conviction for immigration purposes.”
Now, Colotl and her attorney are asking a federal judge to step in and order immigration officials to reinstate her DACA status. Kuck will argue her case before a judge. If she loses, she'll be able to appeal, and only then will a final ruling on whether she will be deported be handed down.