In a statement released Friday, KSU officials said that according to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the deferral was an act of discretion by ICE and in no way changes Colotl's status as an illegal immigrant.
"According to the deferral letter from ICE, Ms. Colotl remains an 'alien illegally or unlawfully within the U.S.' and would be subject to removal proceedings if the conditions of her deferral are not met," according to the statement e-mailed to the Journal by Fraces Harrison, the university's director of communications.
Dr. Dan Papp, president of the university, is quoted in the release as saying, "This is great news for Ms. Colotl, her family and friends and for the KSU community. We are especially thrilled she will be allowed to continue her studies here at KSU. We would also like to thank everyone who was involved, both on campus and within the larger community, in helping Ms. Colotl."
The university was actively trying to help Colotl while she was jailed. The university's lawyer reached out to a former Consul General of Mexico's consulate in Atlanta to offer assistance, and the top student affairs officer inquired with the national president of Colotl's Latina sorority about how the school could help.
School officials have not determined when Colotl will return to classes on campus.
Colotl was stopped for a traffic violation on KSU's campus on March 29 and cited for impeding the flow of traffic. She was arrested the following day when she could not present a valid driver's license.
She was driving a gold Honda Accord registered in Georgia. It is not clear who owns the vehicle or whether Colotl was an insured driver of it.
Colotl was taken to Cobb County Jail, and then turned over to immigration authorities. Claudia Caycho, a friend and sorority sister of Colotl's for three years, reported that she was taken to the larger immigration detention center in Gadsden on April 1.
Colotl reportedly had an immigration hearing in Atlanta on April 28, where she was denied bond, but granted voluntary departure. According to Caycho, at that time Colotl was ordered to leave the county in 20 days via her own transportation, instead of being deported.
In an email obtained by the Journal, dated May 6, Xochitl Bervera, communications director for the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, wrote to supporters that Colotl had been released and was back home in Duluth with her mother.
"The fight is not over," Bervera wrote. "At this moment, we only know that ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) has granted a deferred action. Work remains in the courts before a real victory for Jessica's freedom is won."
In an attempt to contact Colotl, the Journal visited the home address in Duluth she provided Cobb Police on her jail book-in sheet on March 30. The woman who answered the door at the residence in Century Park Apartments said that she still receives mail in Colotl's name, although she has lived there for five months and has never met the 21-year-old KSU student.
The Journal also tried calling an Atlanta-area code phone number Colotl provided to the jail, but the number was no longer in service. Repeated calls to her attorney, Kazuma Sonoda, of the Sonoda Law Firm, an immigration attorney in Atlanta, have gone unanswered.
Efforts to contact Bervera and Colotl's two sorority sisters, Caycho and Lila Parra, who helped organize a march in honor of the KSU student on May 1, have also been unsuccessful.
Colotl has apparently lived in the United States since she was 7. According to her friends, Colotl's parents came to Atlanta illegally in 1996 from southern Mexico to escape a life of severe poverty. Friends say the family moved around most of Colotl's childhood, but she eventually graduated from Lakeside High School in DeKalb County with a 3.8 grade-point average, according to Parra. She enrolled at KSU and began taking classes there in fall 2006.
KSU officials say she was admitted to the university as an in-state student because she had graduated from a Georgia high school.