ACLU Secures DACA Renewal for Georgia Activist

May 25, 2018 11:15 am

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NEW YORK — The Department of Homeland Security has agreed to renew Jessica Colotl’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and work permit to resolve a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Georgia, and Kuck Baxter Immigration in May 2017 against DHS for arbitrarily terminating Jessica’s DACA and rejecting her renewal application.

“This is the best birthday gift I could have ever hoped for. I am now safe at work and can fully get back to the life I had worked so hard to build here in Georgia with peace of mind,” said Jessica Colotl. “I hope the government finally sees that I just wish to have what everyone else has — stability and security that my home won’t be taken away from me.”

The government initially terminated Colotl’s previous DACA grant and denied her renewal request without notice or a chance to respond, even though she had been approved for DACA twice previously, nothing had changed, and she remained eligible for the program. In July 2017, a federal district court in Georgia concluded that the government’s actions were unlawful, and issued a decision requiring that Colotl’s DACA grant and work permit be restored pending the resolution of the lawsuit.

“While we are thrilled that Jessica’s DACA will be renewed, we worry about her and the hundreds of thousands of other DACA recipients who remain in limbo,” said Katrina Eiland, ACLU staff attorney. “The government continues to fight recent court decisions that make clear the Trump administration’s rescission of the DACA program is unlawful. Meanwhile, many young immigrants are still being wrongfully and arbitrarily targeted by the administration.”

Colotl, a resident of Georgia, is a 30-year-old citizen of Mexico who has lived in the United States since she moved here in 1999 when she was 11 years old. She graduated from Lakeside High School in DeKalb County, Georgia, in May 2006 with honors. She then attended Kennesaw State University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in political science in 2011. In college, Colotl excelled academically and was named to the President’s List. She was also actively involved in the Hispanic Scholarship Fund and the Mexican American Student Alliance, and helped found the Epsilon Alpha Chapter of Lambda Theta Alpha, a sorority.

“Jessica is exactly who she appears to be — kind, honest, and the type of person we want and need in the United States,” said Charles Kuck of Kuck Baxter Immigration. “When the government violates people’s rights, no one should be afraid to stand up for what is right and just. Jessica stood up, and she was right. Today, justice prevailed.”

Since graduating, Colotl has worked as a paralegal at Kuck Baxter Immigration and aspires to attend law school to become an immigration lawyer. She also has continued to serve the community, volunteering for the Annual Latino Youth Leadership Conference, donating platelets at the Northside Hospital in Atlanta, and fundraising for St. Jude Children’s Hospital. She is a member of Saint Patrick’s Catholic Church in Norcross, Georgia, and a passionate advocate for immigrants’ rights and immigration reform.

“The state of Georgia is stronger when it opens its arms to inspiring individuals like Jessica,” said Sean J. Young, legal director of the ACLU of Georgia. “She deserves a chance at the American dream as much as any of us.”

After taking on Colotl’s case, the ACLU filed a nationwide class action lawsuit on behalf of other DACA recipients to challenge the federal government’s unlawful policies terminating young immigrants’ DACA grants without notice or process. In that lawsuit, the ACLU has obtained a nationwide preliminary injunction that requires the government to provide notice, an explanation, and a chance to respond before it can terminate any class member’s DACA grant.

More information about Colotl’s case is available here:

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