ATLANTA – The woman who became a poster child for the nation’s illegal immigration debate is being allowed to stay in the United States.
On Monday afternoon, U.S. District Judge Mark Cohen ruled that Jessica Colotl’s temporary status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) be reinstated.
"We're very excited that the court has ordered the federal government to follow its own rules," said Charles Kuck, Colotl's attorney. "It was quite clear the government had no legitimate reason for cancelling her DACA.
"Tomorrow, Jessica will go back to work and we'll see what happens next."
Colotl has been given a two-year extension on her DACA.
Colotl, considered the “poster child” for the Obama administration’s “Dream Act,” came before the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia on Thursday. According to Colotl and her attorney, she was flagged by authorities when she went to renew her DACA status, which was valid until May 18.
Because of an 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. She was arrested in 2010 after a traffic stop. Threatened with deportation, her legal battle made national headlines.
In 2012, Colotl was granted temporary status to stay in the United States under DACA, which offered protection to immigrants brought here as children, as Colotl was.
“I went from having a normal life to being paralyzed in a matter of seconds,” Colotl said.
For the last five years, the KSU grad has been a tax-paying paralegal.
"There's no reason it (her DACA) wouldn't have been approved," Colotl's attorney, Charles 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."
Kuck said the government can appeal the case if it wants to, but he believes such an appeal "will face an uphill battle.
"DACA was created for Jessica and people like her, who want to contribute to society and make America great," Kuck said.