A young Georgia immigrant is fighting back after federal authorities revoked her protection from deportation.
Jessica Colotl, a former Kennesaw State student whose case sparked national debates over immigration in 2010, lost her reprieve from deportation this month under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
When she went to work Monday as a paralegal, Colotl said she got a notification in the mail from federal immigration authorities that her DACA status had been terminated.
“It meant that as of that day, I was no longer able to work and I was once again out of status,” she said.
In her termination notice on May 3, authorities wrote her case was “not consistent with the Department of Homeland Security’s enforcement priorities.”
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said her DACA was terminated because of an act dating back six years ago.
Bryan Cox, a spokesperson for ICE, said in a statement that Colotl admitted guilt to a felony charge in 2011 of making a false statement to law enforcement.
Colotl entered a pre-trial diversionary program, and the charge was eventually dismissed. However, Cox said, “under federal law her guilty plea is considered a felony conviction for immigration purposes.”
Charles Kuck, her attorney, said her protection was revoked “arbitrarily, capriciously, and legally and factually incorrectly.”
Kuck said the federal government already had known about her previous felony charge in her DACA application.
Federal officials did not say why the decision was made this month. ICE noted that a decision to grant deferred action may be revoked by the Department of Homeland Security at any time, “particularly in the case of someone who commits a crime or is otherwise found to pose a national security or public safety threat.”
Polly Price, a professor at Emory University specializing in immigration law, said under the Trump administration, deportation priorities have been widened.
“It's emblematic of the broader scope that ICE has taken recently in terms of who they're targeting and what their priorities might be,” she said.
However, President Donald Trump has so far left the DACA program itself intact and has told recipients, also known as Dreamers, to “rest easy.”
“You have some absolutely, incredible kids. I would say mostly. They were brought here in such a way, it's a very, very tough subject. We're going to deal with DACA with heart,” he said in February press briefing.
Trump’s comments had relieved Colotl, but she said now, she’s worried.
“I mean, where do we actually stand? Are we seriously in limbo again?” Colotl said.