American Runaway Mistakenly Deported to Colombia

A 15-year-old girl, Jakadrien Turner, has returned to Texas after being mistakenly deported to Colombia. The teen had run away from her home in November 2010 and was arrested in Houston, Texas in April 2011. Turner was arrested for theft and told authorities that her name was Tika Cortez. She had no identification leading the authorities to believe that was her actual name. Turner also told authorities that she was an illegal immigrant from Colombia for reasons that are not yet clear to anyone.

Turner was put through the court system and was deemed to be an illegal immigrant from Colombia, and as a result she was deported. It is shocking that a 15-year-old girl was able to conceal her identity from the government without being found out, but The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency claims that they did all of the proper searches and were somehow unable to come up with any information about the teen.

Photographs of Turner have surfaced that show the teen partying and smoking marijuana. In addition, unbeknownst to her mother and grandmother, Turner was also pregnant. These photographs surfaced on Facebook, indicating to many that maybe it was a call for help and Turner had wanted to be found. The U.S. Embassy in Bogota, Columbia and Columbian officials worked together to find Turner and bring this case to resolution.

Turner’s attorney, Ray Jackson, says that they will be bringing suit against all of the agencies that were in contact with Turner. Jackson claims that there are civil rights violations in issue due to the mistaken deportation.

This case leaves many questions wide open. How did a teenager successfully conceal her identity from both U.S. and Columbian officials? Why would this teen want to be deported to Columbia? Were Turners civil rights violated, considering that she told the police she was an illegal immigrant from Columbia?

Source: CNN.com

6 comments

  1. Despite the numerous safeguards United States Authorities have in place in order to ascertain a person’s true identity, some people are just bound to slip through the cracks. This case is an example of this. For whatever the reason, this girl seemed rather determined to hide her true identity from the authorities. She apparently stuck to her story, and having nothing else to go on, the authorities were forced to believe her. Perhaps her motivation was that the man she was made pregnant by was in Columbia and she wanted to join him there. I am not sure of what U.S. officials can really do in such a situation where someone sticks to there story and officials have nothing else to go on. Perhaps they could have checked for any missing children reports matching the girl’s description, but I do not think one was filed here. This is really not a case where the government should have done more. Hopefully in the future the proper officials will be aware to be more vigilant in their investigation and will be on the lookout for others attempting to pull off similar stunts. Now that officials are aware that an incident such as this one is possible, hopefully they can work to prevent it from happening again.

  2. The fact that this teenager’s identity was not discovered by US Immigration officials raises some significant concern regarding the effectiveness of our immigration system. It could be that this one case is an anomaly and not reflective of the effectiveness of the entire system, but we do not have the information to reach that conclusion. This case should, however, lead us to question the immigration system’s effectiveness and methods in determining an individual’s identity. I am inclined to believe that the US officials did not care to make certain that Turner was indeed an illegal immigrant when she purported it to be the truth. It may seem cynical, but the lack of verification may have been the result of the US officials saying, “hey, she says she is illegal, therefore she is illegal. Case closed.” I think it is important to point out, however, how rare this type of situation comes up (i.e. a US citizen claiming to be an illegal). Can we really fault the officials for taking her word for it? On the other hand, lets be honest, she was arrested for theft so isn’t that in itself an indication of how trustworthy this person is? Wouldn’t that at least lead an official to question her seemingly odd and forthcoming statements?

    Just out of curiosity, I would really like to know if Turner seemed to have any trace of a Colombian accent in her voice when speaking with US officials? For the sake of the integrity of their investigation into the matter, I would sure hope so.

  3. Reading this I am surprised that the U.S. Immigration Department actually deported her. I guess if someone really wants to hide their identity from authorities they can. Assuming she has never been finger printed, being that she is only 15, there was probably no real way for them to discover her true identity. I am surprised that she never came forward. Considering the fact that Immigration Services usually detain illegal immigrants in facilities similar to jails while they await for trial or during the investigation, one would think under those conditions she would have broke down and said who she really was. I do not think that her constitutional rights were violated because she was deceptive to police. Granted, she is only 15, but a 15 year old should understand the severity of claiming to be from Columbia. What happened to her once she arrived in Columbia? The fact that many immigrants caught here illegally are deported, sent back to their country and have no where to go, but they might have family to return to. Where did this girl go when she was dropped off? Once she got there she obviously decided to tell someone. But why did she not say anything while going through the long process of court and deportation? The whole situation seems rather strange.

  4. This is quite an interesting story, yet extremely puzzling. Its almost hard to believe that a 15 year old girl was able to fool so many US and Columbian officials. Aren’t the immigration officials supposed to be professionals? If they are making such huge mistakes with this 15 year old girl, i’d be curious to know what else (or who) is slipping past them. Also, I now wonder if there are many other cases of mistaken deportations. I’m assuming there must be, but most people probably do not go willingly as this girl did. Clearly, she must have many many problems at home (hence why she ran away) to want to be deported to a country such as Columbia. Nevertheless, she is just a 15 year old girl, and the fact that she was deported by the officials should rest on their shoulders, as their mistake.

  5. This case is really bizarre – but I do wonder how the US government could have identified this girl who had no identification and who told them she was an illegal immigrant. It does seem that the government would have had little reason to suspect that she was a lying American citizen who wanted to get deported. It seems likely that illegal immigrants try to convince the government but they are here legally but this might be a first.

    The two things that I find the most surprising about this is that it seems she gave ICE the name of an actual Colombian woman and also that the teen didnt speak Spanish.

    It is also very surprising that the way the family found her was on Facebook but under an assumed name. How did they ever think to look at that person’s page?

  6. In this absurd case, I find a few aspects particularly troubling. First, in a world where Facebook has been increasingly used as a tool to identify individuals, assert causes of action or defenses in court, and for background searches during job interviews, I cannot tell whether or not I should be surprised that it is the family and friends who find Jackadrien’s Facebook over U.S. authorities. Second, there probably a very high chance that this girl has mental or behavioral problems (schizophrenia seems to fit her behavior), which, again, the authorities seem to have ignored or missed completely. Third, in this post-9/11 world that can be expected to be more trigger-happy than not regarding deportations, the burden to demonstrate one’s legal status should fall squarely on the shoulders of an adult. But Jackadrien is clearly a minor, possibly a mentally ill one; I think Colombia’s foreign ministry realized that their lawyers failed to do their due diligence. I hope the U.S. DHS is making a similar evaluation on their end.

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