Activists and members of human rights groups joined Colotl - an illegal immigrant and Kennesaw State University student - and denounced Warren's recent actions, calling them politically motivated.
"It's really unfortunate that her family has been used by 'Wild West Warren' for a political ploy to score political points," said Jerry Gonzalez, executive director for the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials. "It's shameful that a law enforcement official would use the rule of law and the authority given to him by Cobb County voters to abuse that power and to create a massive manhunt for a college student, a non criminal."
Warren maintains that he was enforcing the law, as is his duty under oath, and was not encouraged by anyone to pursue the situation.
Colotl, 21, was stopped on KSU campus March 29 for a traffic violation and later arrested for driving without a valid license. After Colotl was booked into Cobb Jail, she was turned over to immigration authorities. She was taken to the Etowah County Detention Center in Gadsden, Ala., on April 1, but was released May 5. Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities agreed to defer any action against her for one year so she could return to her studies at the university.
On Wednesday evening, however, the Cobb Sheriff's Office obtained a warrant for Colotl on a felony charge of lying to law-enforcement officials, based on a reportedly false address she provided upon her book-in at the Cobb County Jail in March. On Friday morning, Colotl turned herself into Cobb authorities and was released on a $2,500 bond.
Rich Pellegrino, of Cobb Immigrant Alliance, said his group would soon be asking for Warren's resignation.
"Next week we will be releasing information we have documented proof that Sheriff Neil Warren has been selectively enforcing the law, looking to the side when other people have identity issues, other people who are friends of his have identity documents, false documents, we will be releasing that next week and calling for the resignation and removal of Sheriff Neil Warren," Pellegrino said.
Gonzalez even called for President Barack Obama to step in, asking him to take away an agreement, known as 287(g), which Cobb County has with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency to check the immigration status of everyone booked into the county jail. The Cobb County Sheriff's Office was the first agency in Georgia to participate in 287(g). Since July 2007, Warren's office has identified more than 6,600 inmates who were in the United States illegally. Warren signed a new 287(g) agreement in October 2009.
In defense of his latest actions, Warren said Friday that his staff went to the Duluth address that Colotl provided to his department during her first book-in and met with the manager of Century Park Apartments, only to find that Colotl did not live there.
"I have all the confidence in the world that my investigators did a thorough investigation," Warren said. "And they presented a case to the magistrate, and the magistrate judge felt there was probable cause to issue the warrant. So it's time for us to let the courts and the judge decide ... We started getting calls and I felt obligated to look into it. I did not have any encouragement to do anything."
Warren said he has no intentions of resigning.
Regarding Colotl's late March booking in Cobb Jail and the tools used to determine the status of an inmate, Warren said, "some may think it is unfortunate that minor offenders are caught in the 287(g) net; but I value any tool that helps me enforce the law and remove violators from our community. Georgia law establishes legal criteria for every potential offender, from traffic violations thru capital felony murder. Often individuals have different perceptions or personal definitions of criminal activity. I follow the Georgia Code and enforce those statutes. That is my oath of office and duty to the citizens of Cobb County."
Following Friday's press conference, Christopher Taylor, Colotl's attorney, was critical of the Journal for its reporting, saying the Journal was responsible for Colotl's second arrest.
"I believe the Marietta Daily Journal and the Cobb County Sheriff's Office misreported this issue," Taylor said. "I've got a problem with the Marietta Daily Journal ... Reporting that she gave a false address caused a fire storm."
However, the Journal brought Colotl's story to light on May 1 because her friends and sorority sisters from Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority reached out to the newspaper, asking for coverage of a march for Colotl at the state Capitol.
In an attempt to contact Colotl, the Journal called her previous attorney, Kazuma Sonoda, of the Sonoda Law Firm, sent her a message via Facebook and finally went to the Duluth address she provided to authorities on May 7. At the address, a woman answered and said she still receives mail for Colotl, but has never met the KSU student.
Taking jabs at politicians Friday, Gonzalez said, "(Former) U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal has said he wants to bring Arizona along to Georgia as governor. (Former) state Sen. Eric Johnson wants to ban access to college education to deserving students like Jessica. They want to kick them out of school. Is that the kind of Georgia that we want?"
Johnson, a Republican candidate for governor, on Friday challenged a statement from the chancellor of the University System of Georgia that it would be too costly to require verifying citizenship when a student goes through the admissions process.
"This is a typical bureaucratic response. First and foremost, we cannot afford to simply ignore the law, and it is unacceptable to brazenly dismiss the responsibility of enforcement," Johnson said. "... It does not cost a dime to ask for a valid driver's license, valid passport, or valid student visa."
KSU officials have said that Colotl was receiving in-state tuition since she graduated from a Georgia high school.
Gonzalez went on to say that Georgia has "no leadership from both of our U.S. senators."
"Where is Saxby Chambliss and where is Johnny Isakson? Instead of saying no on immigration reform, why are they not working to move forward with a workable solution that moves us together as a nation to uphold our values as a nation? (Isakson) You are up for re-election sir. There are a 160,000 Latinos registered to vote. We are paying attention to this issue," he said.
In response, Isakson told the Journal, "I have always drawn a clear distinction between legal and illegal immigration, and anyone who comes to our country legally should be welcomed to share in the pursuit of the American dream. At the same time, the defense of our nation begins with securing our borders and ending the opportunity for illegal entry. Our immigration laws must be followed and they must be enforced, and I stand in full support of those who do both."