ACLU Goes to Court to Challenge Trump Administration’s Denial of Jessica Colotl’s DACA

October 26, 2017 3:15 pm

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WASHINGTON — The American Civil Liberties Union and Kuck Immigration Partners today challenged the Trump administration’s second denial of Jessica Colotl’s application to renew her status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The filing was in federal district court in Atlanta.

The government denied Colotl’s renewal application even though she has been approved for DACA twice previously, nothing has changed, and she remains eligible for the program. The government contends that it denied her application because she is in deportation proceedings. However, the Department of Homeland Security’s own policies stipulate that noncitizens in such proceedings remain eligible for DACA. DHS guidance states that DACA recipients are not priorities for deportation, and Colotl continues to satisfy the DACA program’s eligibility criteria. The ACLU is challenging the government’s actions for failure to comply with the court’s prior order requiring that it follow its own rules, and well as for violating the Administrative Procedure Act and the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

“It’s unconscionable that the Trump administration is hell-bent on targeting young immigrants who have done nothing wrong. Jessica Colotl followed the rules, was granted DACA twice before, and nothing has changed in her circumstances,” said ACLU staff attorney Michael Tan. “The Trump administration has arbitrarily decided to tag her as a priority for deportation, which flies in the face of the government’s repeated statements that Dreamers are not targets for deportation. Jessica’s case is another reminder that young immigrants are under threat now and why we need Congress to pass a clean Dream Act urgently.”

In addition to Colotl’s case, Jesús Arreola and other DACA recipients have been targeted by the Trump administration. The ACLU is challenging the government’s practice of wrongful revocations of DACA status as part of a nationwide class action lawsuit. Additionally, approximately a dozen DACA recipients were detained at a Customs and Border Protection checkpoint in September under reported guidelines of stricter screening and targeting practices. And because of the new October 5 re-application deadline put in place by the Trump administration without adequate notice, the 22,000 Dreamers that missed it will now be at risk of deportation. Beginning in March 2018, about 1,400 young immigrants will lose their DACA protection every day unless Congress passes the Dream Act.

“The people’s representatives in Congress are on notice: Dreamers need a solution now that does not come at the expense of our friends and families’ safety,” said Lorella Praeli, ACLU director of immigration policy and campaigns.

Colotl, a resident of Georgia, is a 28-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 Chapter of Lambda Theta Alpha, a sorority.

Since graduating, Colotl has worked as a paralegal at Kuck Immigration Partners LLC and aspired 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.

In May 2017, the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Georgia, and Kuck Immigration Partners LLC took legal action to restore Colotl’s DACA protections after it was wrongfully denied. A federal judge reinstated Colotl’s DACA and ordered that the government review her case under the DACA program’s rules and procedures. Without DACA status, Colotl cannot legally work or live in the United States.

Today’s filing is available online here:
https://www.aclu.org/legal-document/colotl-v-kelly-second-amended-complaint

More information about Colotl’s case is available here:
https://www.aclu.org/cases/colotl-v-kelly

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