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Hours after being released from jail, a Kennesaw State University student who has become the focus of a heated immigration debate told supporters and reporters “I never thought I was going to be caught up in this messed-up system.”

Jessica Colotl, flanked by her immigration and criminal defense attorneys, said Friday that she is evaluating whether to return to school and hoping that proposed national immigration reforms will help her stay in the country after graduation.

The rally held at Plaza Fiesta off Buford Highway in Atlanta was organized by several Latino community groups and human rights organizations. Posted near the speaker’s podium was a poster for the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights featuring Colotl’s image and the slogan “I march for Jessica.”

“I just hope for the best,” Colotl said. “I hope something positive comes out of this because we really need reform.”

Colotl was released from jail on $2,500 bond about 11:40 a.m. Friday. Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren secured a warrant Wednesday night to arrest Colotl, 21, on charges of lying about her address on a jail booking form. A KSU officer had arrested Colotl in March on a charge of driving without a license.

Colotl’s attorney, Christopher Taylor, said his client had lived at the Duluth address listed on her booking records as recently as November 2009. Her motor vehicle insurance and car registration paperwork were still being mailed there, Taylor said.

Colotl was in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement following her first arrest, but at the urging of KSU, Colotl’s friends and advocacy groups, ICE agreed to defer her case until she completed her degree. She was released from a federal detention center in Alabama and allowed to return to the metro Atlanta area.

Warren said he issued the arrest warrant this week after learning that Colotl gave a false address when she was booked into the jail for the traffic violation in March.

Ivan Ortiz-Delgado, a spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Friday that the recent charges brought against Colotl will require the agency to reconsider her status.

“The charges brought against her changed the conditions” that led to ICE’s decision to defer her case and release her from custody, Ortiz-Delgado said.

“ICE will review Ms. Colotl’s case again and make an appropriate determination,” he said. “However, that has not happened yet.”

“Jessica’s case is yet another outrageous example of the unaccountable local enforcement of immigration laws in Cobb County gone awry,” said Azadeh Shahshahani, director of the ACLU of Georgia National Security/Immigrants’ Rights Project. “It is past time to put an immediate end to the 287(g) program in Cobb, which has led to racial profiling and the targeting of hardworking members of the community, the separation of families and the creation of an atmosphere of terror among immigrant communities in Cobb. 287(g) in Cobb has led to a less safe community for us all.”

Colotl, a Mexico native, has been in the United States for much of her life, coming here with her parents when she was 10. Friends said the family moved often until Colotl graduated from DeKalb County’s Lakeside High School in 2006 with a 3.8 grade-point average.

At the urging of KSU President Daniel Papp and others, she was released May 5 and ICE gave her a year’s reprieve so she could complete her degree. Friends say she is two semesters away from graduating.

The 287(g) program was designed to find violent illegal immigrants, but critics say it more often catches minor offenders such as those violating traffic laws.

Read the full story here.

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