The battleground for illegal immigration may be moving from Arizona to the Peach State. Kennesaw State University in Georgia is now embroiled in a controversy. Six weeks ago on March 29, a 21 year old student, Jessica Coloti, was pulled over during a routine traffic stop. Police then learned that she had been in the United States illegally from Mexico for some seven years. Coloti was arrested but later released from jail. She was set to graduate next year. After facing possible deportation, the university has arranged for a deferment of charges for the time being.

KSU President, Dr. Dan Papp, has been actively engaged in efforts to help Ms. Coloti. The university tried to gain her an early release from the Gadsden jail so she might participate in a ‘march of honor’ held back on May 1st. Failing that, the university campaigned to prevent a 20-day deportation ruling from being enacted. ICE, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, agreed to defer any charges after a university lawyer obtained assistance from the Mexican consulate in Atlanta. Dr. Papp was pleased with the results, saying, “We are especially thrilled she will be allowed to continue her studies here at KSU.”

Meanwhile, a backlash is brewing against Dr. Papp and university officials. Parents of U.S. citizens attending KSU are outraged over the incident. Some are unhappy that other applicants for admission were rejected in favor of Coloti. Others are upset the Dr. Papp and university resources were involved in intervening on behalf on her. They are calling for Dr. Papp to resign immediately.

The matter has become part of Georgia’s political race. Republican candidate for governor, Eric Johnson, has called for the Board of Regents to make citizen verification a standard for admission to a state university. In a press release, Johnson says, “With the federal government failing to secure our borders and stem the flow of illegal immigration, it is up to the states to fill the gap. Simply checking a box on a form is not enough – we should ask prospective students to provide verifiable proof of their immigration status.”

One has to wonder if Ms. Coloti lied on her college application form and if that warrants expulsion? Obviously, she probably did not admit in writing that she is in the United States as an illegal immigrant. As the legal battle lines are drawn, it remains to be seen if Jessica Coloti will be able to continue attending KSU and graduate? Likewise, we shall see if public pressure will force KSU to change it’s policies and if Dr. Daniel Papp is forced to resign as the school’s president.