Immigration officials mistakenly deported a fourteen-year-old runaway Dallas teenager to Colombia, despite the fact she was a U.S. citizen who does not speak Spanish, her grandmother alleges.
Dallas’s WFAA reported that Jakadrien Turner was upset over her grandfather’s death and parent’s divorce when she ran away from her Oak Cliff home to Houston in 2010. After see was arrested in the Bayou City for shoplifting, she gave authorities a fake name that happened to belong to an illegal immigrant and was deported in April 2011.
“I am just devastated,” Lorene Turner told Trahan. “No one believed me when I said she was in Colombia. I knew I wasn’t losing my mind. I just wanted to find my grandbaby.”
The former Kimball High School student is now fifteen, pregnant, and living in Bogotá, Trahan reported. The U.S. Embassy confirmed Jakadrien’s presence in Colombia to her grandmother, but said she would have to pay for the $1,000 plane ticket to get her home.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued a statement that the agency is conducting a full investigation into the matter to “expeditiously determine the facts of this case,” Fox News Latino reported.
“We have due process of law in our Constitution to prevent exactly this sort of thing from happening. So what happened here?” asks southern California attorney Burt Likko at The League of Ordinary Gentlemen. Likko points out that some 2,000 American citizens are deported yearly (a number he says should be “more than we ought to be willing to tolerate”) but Turner’s story “stands out for an astonishing obliviousness on the part of ICE.”
Likko worries about what this particularly egregious case says about ICE: “How much easier would it be to make a similar sort of mistake when the detainee is Latino, and does have good Spanish, maybe even better Spanish than English? I see lots of people I presume to be U.S. citizens who match that description, nearly every time I go to court,” Likko writes.
At legal blog Point of Law, Ted Frank wonders if Turner, a runaway, was a willing participant in her deportation. “The fact that Turner waited several months after arriving in Colombia to express concern to her family . . . suggests an element of preference to being in Colombia rather than having her family get her home: Colombia isn’t a North Korean gulag,” he writes. “If Turner did not contest her identity or her deportation, it’s hard to see what immigration officials should have done differently. There isn’t a national biometric database of teenagers’ (much less illegal aliens’) fingerprints, DNA, dental records, or government microchip implants.”
The Dallas Morning News‘ Tawnell Hobbs pored over Jakadrien’s postings on her Facebook page dating back to last May and pieced together a narrative. Jakadrien’s inaugural Facebook post reads: “Back home in Columbia . . . got deported . . . really missed everyone in Houston.”