The board implemented a new policy in October barring any school that has rejected academically qualified applicants in the previous two years from accepting illegal immigrants. State lawmakers tried to go a step farther, introducing an ultimately unsuccessful bill that would have prohibited all of Georgia’s state colleges and universities from admitting illegal immigrants.

King, an ardent supporter of that bill, said he used Colotl’s case last year to file a complaint against the Board of Regents. Young people like Colotl who were brought here by their parents present a sympathetic case, he said, but he blames their parents for their situation.

“I think Jessica Colotl should have been deported last year as an example to the parents who are shamelessly bringing their children into this country,” he said.

Colotl’s parents brought her from Puebla, Mexico, to the U.S. when she was 11. She completed high school in Georgia and went on to Kennesaw State, where she’s set to graduate Wednesday with a major in political science with a legal studies concentration and minor in French.

She very nearly missed out on walking in cap and gown — her one-year reprieve was extended for another year last week, days before it was to expire. Now she hopes to become an immigration lawyer.

While she didn’t invite the spotlight, Colotl still feels it’s had a positive effect.

“I have a few friends who were completely against immigration of any kind, and when they read about my story, they changed their minds and a lot of them told me, ‘We were not right in our opinions, and I appreciate you for educating me on this subject,'” she said.

She’s also been contacted by some illegal immigrant high school students who are inspired by her case.

“That has been the most rewarding part of everything, that other students see this struggle as motivation to keep fighting and to get a higher education,” she said.

Despite all her troubles over the past year, Colotl doesn’t regret her parents’ decision to bring her here.

“I would never dare to blame them for trying to give me a better life,” she said.

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