Illegal Immigration (Emphasis on Illegal): The Case of Jessica Colotl

Heather Murphy-Raines

Heather Murphy-Raines

Immigration is such a daunting task for a conservative to tackle in a public forum. It seems we're often indicted for racism when all most of us want is enforcement of our laws and protection of our citizens.

Case in point: Jessica Colotl, a Kennesaw State University student who's studying political science with dreams of a law degree. I can relate. Although it seems forever ago, I was once a 20-something college student with the same major at Berkeley -- and the same dreams. (Yes, shockingly, I was once a shiny-eyed young thang, three kids ago.)

Yet, that's where the similarities end.

It seems Ms. Colotl was picked up for the minor infraction of obstructing traffic. Whilst being cited for said traffic infraction, it seems Ms. Colotl was deficient on a few minor legalities. You know ... small inconsequential items like a legal driver's license, legally required insurance, and ... oh yes, the right to legally reside in the United States.

Yes, she is illegal. Point blank. I know some of my more leftist-leaning colleagues would like to call her "undocumented," as has become very trendy to say in some media outlets, but my friends, if it quacks like a duck, acts like a duck, and swims like a duck? It's a duck. She is illegally here. Illegal.

Jessica's story starts at age 11 when her parents illegally entered the country, continues through high school where her family continued to flaunt our laws, and ends one year short of a degree from a Georgia university. One year short of a degree -- with state-subsidized tuition apparently gained fraudulently because how does one legally claim state-residency when one can't claim legal national residency? It's also alleged that she might have lied on her application to the university. 

The lies don't end there. Ms. Colotl's flaunting of the law continued after her arrest. Although she was released by immigration authorities to finish her degree as they declined to enforce the law yet again, it's alleged that she lied about her address when arrested. Tsk, tsk. False statements to law enforcement are felonies in Georgia and a warrant for her arrest was issued.

Ms. Colotl has many supporters that decry her actions as allowable given she was just 11 years old when she entered our fair country. They insist she can't be held accountable for the illegal actions of her parents. 

I also have an almost 11-year-old daughter. I agree that 11-year-olds can't make culpable adult decisions. However, Ms. Colotl is no longer that 11-year-old girl. She's now a capable adult and as a capable adult one year shy of a degree, no one forced her to lie about her illegal status. 

No one forced her to drive illegally without a license and the required skill set to avoid obstructing traffic.

No one forced her to perpetuate a felony lie to law enforcement officers.

No one forced her to allegedly give misleading information on a college application and fraudulently gain in-state tuition subsidized by the legal tax-paying citizens of Georgia. 

No one prevented her from leaving the country and seeking to gain entrance to our country legally.

No one.

Those were all adult decisions she made and adult consequences are the result. At the same age, I would hold my future adult daughter to the very same standard.

Some of her supporters shriek racism and civil injustice. I say fairness. Justice. How is this different from my husband's Indian colleague needing to leave the country once he lost his work visa after being laid off? Or let's examine young college student Tayhlor Danielle's  commentary on The Huffington Post:

"I had two close friends from Germany and other friends from other countries who came here legally documented on Visas. Four of them were not able to finish school and were promptly sent back to their home countries when their visas expired, three of those four were a semester away from graduation. Why should she get another chance when they didn't ESPECIALLY considering how she didn't come here legally in the first place?! It's a slap in the face to students and persons who come here legally and get sent back on expired Visas, because giving her leniency portrays that they would have been better off coming here illegally just as she had."

Some here in the United States think that it would be cruel to deport Jessica since more than half of her life has been here in the United States. Here illegally in the United States. 

My question is where do we draw the line? When do we start enforcing that which our legal citizenry and our lawmakers have deemed sustainable immigration for our nation?

Honestly, this could've been prevented at age 11 if we didn't use taxpayers' dollars to pay for the enrollment and education of illegal immigrants in our public schools. The problem lies that we give a incentive to enter, we give an incentive to stay and an incentive to lie and keep on lying with very rare enforcement.  

What if the story were different? What if Jessica hadn't been arrested and later went on to injure someone while driving uninsured? Would we be so sympathetic? Would there be anger toward law enforcement for not doing their job and deporting her before she could do harm?

Let's be frank. Is Jessica violent? No, probably not. Has she criminally broken the law on multiple occasions? Yes. Furthermore, it does seem she knows consequences are inherent in her decisions as she said in a recent interview:

"I do understand that there are laws that need to be followed, and if I have to go back to my country, to Mexico, I will have to go back."

Who knows! Jessica might have been a stellar citizen that gave back in dividends to our nation, but so too might have been the German college friend of Tahylor Danielle. At some point though, we need to enforce our laws. 

Yes, we're a nation of immigrants. We should welcome legal immigrants with front doors wide open. However, all our back doors should be dead-bolted, not half-heartedly tied shut and then once you enter, you're free to flaunt our laws without legal recourse.

So is Ms. Colotl entitled to finish her degree? Entitled to subsidized in-state tuition? I say no. As a mother, a taxpayer, and a granddaughter of legal Irish immigrants, I say she's entitled to nothing more than a swift and legal deportation. Period.

Some may say this is intolerant. Others confuse the issues with racism. I call it the law.


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