The old saw is that hard cases make bad law. The case of Jessica Colotl, a 21-year-old college student and illegal Mexican immigrant, is hard in some ways, to be sure. But it might end up making the law better. This is because the same circumstances that make it hard also highlight the ethical issues at the heart of the illegal immigration problem. If we can agree on what is right and wrong concerning Jessica’s situation, a lot of the broader controversy will be clarified.
Colotl is a student at Atlanta’s Kennesaw State University, where she is two semesters from graduation. On March 29, she was pulled over by campus police for “impeding the flow of traffic.” She presented an expired Mexican passport instead of a valid driver’s license, and was arrested and taken to a county jail. There she admitted that she was an illegal immigrant. She has been in the U.S. illegally since her parents brought her here at age 11. Now she faces possible deportation, though this has been deferred, in what can only be called an act of politically motivated mercy, until she has finished college.
Now let’s examine the ethics of her situation, fairly and dispassionately, by answering some questions… Continue reading